Last week was the 5th annual Farmer Foodshare Challenge and it was more successful than ever before, connecting over a ton of fresh, top quality food for agencies serving food insecure community members and raising more than $2000 to support local farms.
You’ve seen these booths at your local market every weekend where the farmers, shoppers and local hunger relief agencies work together to ensure that everyone has enough fresh and healthy food to eat, and that local farms are supported.
A SPECIAL DAY
The Farmer Foodshare Challenge is a special day, where we work even harder to reach out more broadly to create a fun competition between markets and community shoppers to raise extra money and food and have a little fun doing it. The Challenge is in September, at a time in the season when markets begin to slow down and sometimes people forget that our farmers are producing wonderful nutritious food all year round.
The Challenge encourages the community to continue coming to market to shop and to support our farmers and families in need of food. It also helps each market build up a reserve of funds to buy food, even during the winter when shopper donations tend to drop off even while farmers are still out at the markets! This year, Farmer Foodshare pulled together fun activities, from scavenger hunts and face painting to sidewalk chalk and raffles, at each markets’ donation station. All this effort is intended to raise awareness and rally shoppers to challenge the pantry norm of processed food and provide fresh, local food to the hungry.
The Donation Stations, located at 12 farmers markets around North Carolina, radiated with energy last week. Equipped with big signs, motivated volunteers, raffle tickets, face paint, and scavenger hunts, the Foodshare stands were popular attractions for children to draw, paint, and play games while their parents shopped for food.
KIDS HUNT FOR VEGETABLES
When asked what it was like working with the kids at the Market, Joanna Kuang said, “Working with the kids at the Donation Station in Durham was an ideal way to spend my Saturday morning. I never had a farmers market to go to growing up, so I was thrilled to see the progress of our society as more markets are becoming accessible and available to the youngest members of our society. It surprised me how excited the kids were about the vegetable scavenger hunt. Being able to reach a larger audience, that of the youngest generation with the most potential to further impact our world, was energizing. It was great to interact with the parents, as well, who became curious about our FFS Challenge"
“I told parents that they could have a sticker too,” said James Smith, UNC-Chapel Hill student and Farmer Foodshare intern. “They all hesitated at first, but no one could turn down the ‘I Shared’ stickers after making a donation.”
Every week, 100% of cash donated at Farmer Foodshare donation stations is used to buy fresh food from local farmers at the market. This food, along with whatever extra food is donated, is delivered to one of 22 community partner sites to be distributed to those who need it most.
This year’s challenge benefited 16 different community partners, including Durham Crisis Center, Inter-Faith Council for Human Services, and Club Nova.
Donations from the Challenge also were stored as a cash reserve so that Donation Stations can continue to provide fresh food to the community throughout the winter months, when less extra food is available.
Although the Challenge was wildly successful, food insecurity remains a significant problem and local farmers are growing and selling their wonderfully tasty and nutritious fresh food twelve months a year!