In this post on the Healthy Places By Design blog, our longtime board member Tim Schwantes reflects on how he — and Farmer Foodshare — have grown over the last six years. Tim, thank you for all your hard work — we are going to miss you!
Lessons from Six Years of Supporting Food Systems Change
By Tim Schwantes, Healthy Places by Design
Last month, I completed my last term as a member of the Farmer Foodshare board of directors.
Farmer Foodshare formed in 2009, and I began supporting its work early in its life. This statewide, North Carolina based nonprofit has a dual mission of helping people who need food while supporting local farmers. The organization does this by making fresh, local food available to everyone in the community and ensuring that the farmers who grow it make a healthy living.
When Farmer Foodshare started its work, providing fresh food through food assistance programs was an innovative approach to not only increase food security, but also to address higher rates of obesity and overweight in low-income populations. It highlighted how traditional food banks could better serve their communities while also acknowledging the economic needs of farmers. Almost no local hunger relief organizations were using this strategy at the time.
I hope that I gave as much as I gained from this innovative organization. I met an expanding network of people in my community who are passionate, smart, and working to solve many of the issues plaguing our food system. I also gained four important insights, about food systems specifically and nonprofit work in general, as I watched the organization grow.