Food Chain Fix

Students make the most of low-hanging fruit.

May 2023

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A man and woman standing in a garden of lettuce

WASTE NOT: Kanoff and Delp decided to capitalize on farm surplus during the pandemic shutdown. Their idea grew into a staple for community organizations addressing hunger. Photo: Ananya Navale,'25

Supply chains were disrupted. Restaurants shut down. Schools closed, making it more difficult for the 30 million children who rely on the National School Lunch program to access low-cost or free meals. The pandemic upset the U.S. food landscape, increasing food insecurity and malnutrition.

After seeing food banks turn people away for lack of supplies while farmers were throwing away millions of pounds of food every day that they couldn’t sell commercially, James Kanoff, then a sophomore, decided to do something about it. “It sounded a little bit crazy, but we wanted to try,” he says. “If we could just help one farm and one food bank, that would be a good thing to do.”

After calling about 150 farmers in California, Kanoff, ’22, reached one that was on the verge of sending 10,800 eggs to a landfill. He rented a U-Haul truck, drove 25 miles to the farm, and then delivered the eggs to several food banks in Los Angeles. Kanoff’s friends wanted to help, and from there, the Farmlink Project was born.

‘It’s a great example of how smart students with a bias for action can have real impact in the world.’

“We were pretty much sitting there watching the world crumble,” says Stella Delp, ’22, one of Farmlink’s founding members and now head of the nonprofit’s people operations. “I started off with waking up early before classes, calling farmers, trying to find produce and a way to get that produce to families in need.”

Since 2020, Farmlink has grown from a group of student volunteers delivering thousands of pounds of carrots, potatoes, fruit, and more near their hometowns into a nonprofit organization with $15 million in donations and grants, 20 full-time employees, more than 100 student fellows nationwide, and a logistics network that connects the surplus of thousands of farmers to communities fighting hunger. Farmlink now partners with corporations such as Chipotle and Kroger and has delivered more than 100 million pounds of food to schools, food banks, churches, mosques, temples, and after-school programs, with the goal of providing 1 billion meals by 2026.

“I think it’s a great example of how smart students with a bias for action can have real impact in the world,” says professor of Earth system science David Lobell, who directs Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment. “Having sufficient food is the most basic need, not only for individuals in a society to avoid suffering, but for them to even begin to have the sense of dignity and trust that is needed for societies to function.”

Lauren Koong, ’26, is an editorial intern at Stanford. Email her at

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