NORFOLK—Virginia farmers who have extra and unsold fresh produce this year are being asked to consider partnering with their local food banks. Members of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks distributed more than 142 million pounds of food and grocery products to 1.2 million Virginians last year. A high percentage of the products distributed was fresh produce sent out to 2,608 partner agencies that deliver directly to individuals in need. In response to a national drive to eat healthier in recent years, many food banks have ramped up their supply of produce. And it turns out there may be funding available to pay for increasing that supply this year. “Most food banks are looking to provide more fresh produce, and we would like the opportunity to buy local. Developing those relationships now is key to that happening,” said Leslie Van Horn, executive director of the food bank federation. Van Horn said many Virginia farmers are most likely unaware that they could be paid for unsold produce that otherwise would be wasted. The Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is one of several farm organizations that has promoted to their members the opportunity to sell to food banks. “We’re looking for seconds or thirds, items that have been turned away by commercial buyers or are being tilled under at the end of a growing season. We would like the opportunity to discuss purchasing those products at a fair price,” Van Horn said. Farmers interested in selling to a food bank can call or email Van Horn at 757-314-4572 or firstname.lastname@example.org , and she can help them make appropriate contacts in their communities. Media: Contact Van Horn at 757-314-4572 or Norm Hyde , VFBF communications, at 804-290-1146.