There is something about feeding people that makes many of us feel that we’re giving and showing our love. An afternoon spent on a birthday cake for a child, a few hours put aside to make a special meal for our significant other, food brought to new parents or the bereaved – these are all ways we show we care through food. Farmer Foodshare is a local nonprofit organization that gives love and aid through food. I talked to Katy Phillips, their Donation Station Coordinator, to learn about them and what they do.
Margaret Gifford, founder and Executive Director of Farmer Foodshare, moved back to Chapel Hill after living in San Francisco and found a great need to help feed people here. Hunger is a big problem in our state. North Carolina ranks in the top 10 states on the hunger scale. One in five children in the state does not have enough to eat on a daily basis. Ms. Gifford wanted to help feed these people, and to help them eat healthy food. She started Farmer Foodshare by taking a box to the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. She collected unsold food which would otherwise have ended up in a compost heap; instead, it went to a local food pantry and from there to people who needed it.
The idea caught on and her organization became bigger and broader reaching. Today Farmer Foodshare works with farmers and farmers markets all over the Triangle and beyond. Ms. Phillips organizes the collection of food from various markets in the area and its distribution to different organizations that then pass the food along to those in need. The food stays local, those in need eat a healthier diet than they would otherwise, and the farmers know that their food isn’t going to waste.
Ms. Phillips was drawn to this work after having worked in several community gardens that serve the hungry. Like those of us cooking food for new parents or baking a special birthday cake, she feels that she is helping create a special relationship, or bridge, between the farmers and those in need of their food. Farmers know that food that goes through Farmer Foodshare is reaching the hungry in their community, helping establish better eating habits and creating new consumers of fresh produce. She finds the collaborative effort of getting fresh food directly into the hands of hungry families incredibly rewarding.
The donation stations, found at 16 farmers markets in the area, also take donations of cash. Since mid-2009 these stations have taken in 140,000 pounds of top quality food and given it to 22 agencies and institutions that serve the hungry and malnourished in North Carolina. That is a lot of hungry people that Ms. Gifford’s idea has helped feed.
If you shop at local farmers markets, love fresh, local food and want to help others, please consider helping this wonderful organization – they need the support of both shoppers and volunteers. Their Donation Stations are located through the Triangle. They have tables at the Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, South Durham, Raleigh, Western Wake, Hillsborough, Eno, Southern Village, Fearrington, and Chatham Mills markets. Each of these markets serves recipients in their communities. If you are interested in volunteering, or knowing more about Farmer Foodshare and their Donation Station Program, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also go to their website at www.farmerfoodshare.org.