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Project FoodBox Provides Fresh ‘Produce as Medicine’ for Those in Need

SunTerra Produce delivers boxes of fresh produce with staples like beans or rice tailored to those with medical needs as part of their Produce FoodBox program. To date, they’ve delivered 5 million boxes. The program exists in Orange County, and now is in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties.

November 16, 2023

By Laurie Hanson

With more people realizing that food is medicine, one Orange County program is serving up fresh produce and other nutritious staples to those in need in the community.

Project FoodBox, which serves Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial counties, accomplishes this by bringing fresh produce directly from the farm to the doorstep working with local family farms throughout California and the Pacific Northwest. 

“Our goal is to serve all 58 counties in California and expand throughout the U.S.,” Steve Brazeel, founder and CEO of SunTerra Produce said

Pictured (left) is Steve Brazeel, Founder and CEO of SunTerra Produce, a family-owned minority grower and produce distribution company, with a Project Foodbox worker. Project FoodBox got started during the pandemic, and is thriving today providing “food as medicine” to those in need.


SunTerra is a family-owned minority grower and produce distribution company that operates Project Foodbox.

“Born out of the food bank box program, we execute prescriptive, fresh fruit/veg-based food-as-medicine programs for healthcare providers throughout California,” he said.

When Project FoodBox was launched to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, SunTerra Produce was chosen as a contractor under USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program in May of 2020.

SunTerra Produce working ladies are proud of their work providing nutritious produce and food to those in need as part of Project FoodBox. The program, which started during COVID-19, now supplies food banks and is partnering with Medi-Cal plans throughout California including in Orange County.


“When that program ended, we forged partnerships with the California Association of Food Banks, OC Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and others to continue to deliver farm-fresh fruits and vegetables directly to food banks and community organizations every week,” explained Brazeel.

“To date, we have delivered 5 million (100 million pounds),” he said.

With two main focuses, Project Foodbox partners with food banks directly – sourcing and delivering farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to dozens of food banks across the western U.S.

“On sourcing, we partner with farmers to reduce farm-level food loss by utilizing sizes/grades not popular with retailers,” he added. “[We do this by] finding market inefficiencies/temporary over-production, removing additional upstream costs, eliminating redundant packaging, lowering food miles, etc.,” Brazeel explained. “It’s a true win-win solution,” he said.  

SunTerra Produce partners with Elevated Foods, establishing additional grower partnerships based on environmental sustainability, which help reduce waste and make more produce available to those in need. 

Recently, Elevated Foods was awarded $32 million in funding to help transition growers to this more sustainable and regenerative practice as defined by both the USDA and NRCS, according to Brazeel.

As part of a 5-year plan to reimagine Medi-Cal, California recently launched CalAIM, creating the opportunity to improve care and outcomes for millions of Medi-Cal enrollees. 

One of these community supports is medically-tailored-meal (food-is-medicine) programs.   

“As a community support provider, we work within the guidelines and programs outlined by our healthcare partners. Food-is-Medicine interventions are relatively new, and we expect programs to adapt and update over time,” he said.

“Project FoodBox strongly supports food-is-medicine programs to improve health and address diet-related chronic health conditions,” Brazeel said. “Studies like this show the opportunities in utilizing fresh, healthy food paired with nutrition education has a tremendous impact on community health and healthcare costs.”

In addition to their food bank relationships, SunTerra Produce is partnering with Medi-Cal plans throughout California to deliver prescriptive “Food-is-Medicine” fresh fruit & vegetables.

To find out more about SunTerra Produce, please visit online at https://sunterraproduce.com/ To find out more about Project FoodBox, please visit online at www.projectfoodbox.org or call 949-673-0783.