Here is a partnership we can get behind: A new program that helps feed the poor and supports small farmers in the state.
Called the Farmer Foodshare program, it is designed to unite North Carolina farmers with people in need of healthy food, and it just got a shot in the arm that will benefit thousands of hungry people and many small farm operations.
It was announced this week that Farmer Foodshare will receive a nearly $500,000 grant.
Farmer Foodshare serves communities in six central North Carolina counties. The volunteer-based program connects farmers with people and organizations in need of food at a fair market price. The program was founded by Margaret Gifford.
“Food is not free. Good food is never free. We can provide food for the hungry and pay farmers. We believe you can do both. We look for ways to make that happen on a sustainable basis,” said organizers of the program.
Farmer Foodshare received the grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation with a long-term goal of increasing the overall health of North Carolinians through fresh food.
Supplying healthy food and supporting small North Carolina farms at the same time is beneficial for everyone, according to Jennifer MacDougall, a spokeswoman for the insurance company’s Healthy Active Communities Program.
“We really see it as, ‘What is that real win for all?’, where you have improved community health, improved community viability and improved community sustainability,” MacDougall said.
Farmer Foodshare is a nonprofit organization that raises funds and donations of fresh food for those at risk for hunger or malnutrition, while building healthy community food systems and enhancing community economic development.
Since its beginning in 2009, Farmer Foodshare has put more than $90,000 into the pockets of N.C. farmers and provided more than 110,000 pounds of top-quality food to relief agencies in Wake, Chatham, Durham, Cleveland, Mecklenberg and Orange counties.
Farmer Foodshare is serving a real need. According to the program organizers:
• North Carolina ranks in the top 10 states for food insecurity in the nation.
• 1 in 5 children do not have adequate food to meet their daily needs.
• Everyone deserves access to fresh, healthy, local food.
Farmers deserve a fair price for their hard work, the organizers stress, and healthy food systems result in healthy air, land and water.
This summer, Farmer Foodshare’s FreshKids! and POP Food Market provided farm fresh snacks to 400 children attending two nonprofit agency summer camps in Chapel Hill and Durham. The camps work with children from 5 to 17 years old.
Children at “Student U” and Chapel of the Cross Vacation Church School were provided some of the best fruits and vegetables that North Carolina Piedmont farms could offer. At the same time, the kids learned about the farmers and some fun facts about the food they were eating.
Learning that much of our best food comes from the soil — and not necessarily from a store shelf — is a valuable lesson for future consumers.