Community Food Share

How our new program is empowering communities and increasing food access this summer

By Caroline Owens

At Farmer Foodshare, we strive to create a community that provides fresh, nutritious food for people in need and supports hardworking farmers so that they can make a healthy living. This  mission directs the programs that we develop as we work to build a more sustainable and equitable local food system.

This summer, we’ve been busy launching a new program. The Community Food Share (CFS) program arose from a need we recognized in the community. Some of the organizations receiving fresh food from our Donation Stations expressed a desire to have more fresh, healthy food than what we were currently donating. At the same time, we heard from many local farmers that they wanted  to access new markets and earn a fair price. This intersection of growth and need enabled an opportunity to build new connections between our farmers and community partners.

The CFS project is a collaboration that uses Farmer Foodshare’s expertise to support innovative efforts that build long-term food security. The program is run by and for community members in the Triangle who have limited access to affordable, fresh food. We aim to bring more of our farmers’ local bounty to neighborhoods and community partners working to alleviate food insecurity throughout the region.

Working in conjunction with our Wholesale Market, we source fresh, local produce from local farmers in order to build a seasonal “share” of produce for participants. The program functions like a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. For ten weeks over the summer, community members receive an affordable share of fresh produce and eggs. Individuals who qualify for federal nutrition assistance programs receive subsidized shares at an additional discount. We also provide educational materials like vegetable fact sheets and recipes based on the week’s produce.

This summer, we are partnering with three local  organizations -- Reality Ministries in Durham, Iglesia Hispana Emanuel in Durham, and Refugee Community Partnership in Chapel Hill. Each of these organizations serves a different population with limited access to fresh food. Each is a recipient of fresh food from one of our local farmers market Donation Stations and has expressed interest in receiving more food than we are currently able to donate. Given this energy, we wanted to continue engaging these communities  by increasing their ability to purchase fresh food from local farmers. Community members at each site are involved in running the program and distributing the food shares. They also have the opportunity to participate in educational workshops to help address the needs of their community.

Our hope is that the CFS program  will help increase access to fresh food for a diverse group of community members and build long-term food security by addressing distributional constraints to accessing fresh, nutritious food from local farms. Our aim is for the program  to be democratically developed, giving a voice to food-insecure community members to have influence in building fresh food access and educational materials that meet their specific and unique needs. Participants have had the opportunity to purchase shares with a variety of local produce including melons, berries, greens, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggs and more. We hope to use the voices of our community members in order to improve this program for years to come!

All community members are welcome to purchase weekly shares and pick them up at one of our site locations. You can also donate a share to a family in need. If you’re interested in getting involved, email katy@farmerfoodshare.org to find out more.