Farmer Foodshare and TABLE Bring Year-Round Fresh Local Food To Children at Risk of Hunger

Local food insecure children learn cooking, canning and year-round food skills through innovative new “Farm to TABLE” program

Farmer Foodshare and TABLE today announced the expansion of their new pilot program, Farm to TABLE, to include over sixty food insecure children in Carrboro and Chapel Hill. The Farm to TABLE program provides fresh, delicious and healthy local food to children at risk of hunger in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The program is funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation and supported by community donors and volunteers. The year-long program provides a weekly supply of fresh locally grown food to children at risk of hunger, and teaches cooking, canning and shopping skills to the children. The program is designed to increase children’s access to and familiarity with fresh local food, as well as to create long-lasting connections between local farmers, children and the community afterschool programs that serve food insecure children.

Learning to make pickles“Farmer Foodshare to TABLE” kids learning to make pickles as part of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market’s “Year Round Food” Community Canning Series! Photo courtesy of Kelley Breeze.

“One in four children in Carrboro and Chapel Hill are considered ‘food insecure.’” said Joy MacVane, executive director of TABLE. “This means that they are not sure if they will have adequate food to meet their basic needs each day. This program provides much needed vegetables to children, as well as ensures that they develop a lifelong love of farm fresh food.”

“We are delighted to be able to work with local farmers from the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and Eastern Carolina Organics to provide afterschool directors and children with a range of fresh and healthy food year round,” said Margaret Gifford, founder and executive director, Farmer Foodshare.

The pilot program was launched in January and has provided weekly fresh food groceries to the children. Linden Thayer, doctoral student in UNC Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Intervention and Policy program, leads volunteers for the Farm to TABLE program who teach cooking skills to the children, preparing a range of fresh, seasonally available snacks such as kale chips and sweet potato fries. In July, some of the children came to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market to learn canning skills from April McGreger of Farmers’ Daughter Brand.

Linden Thayer reports that the children’s favorite fruit and vegetables include cucumbers, turnips and strawberries. Recipes range from “green pancakes” and strawberry yogurt parfaits to sweet potato baked fries. At the end of twelve months, the children and their families will have a full set of local foods recipes for their own use.

Farm to TABLE

The program is designed to both meet the immediate need for children to have access to fresh local food and to create a replicable model for other communities that are interested in increasing the accessibility and affordability of fresh local food, as well as strengthening connections between local farmers and children. In addition to ensuring that these children get access to fresh healthy food every week, TABLE, the children, and afterschool programs will create a recipe book of afterschool snacks based on local food available in central North Carolina. The children will visit local farms and learn how to shop at a farmers’ market. Participating farmers from the Triangle will be able to sign up on a website to post the availability of their produce and local buyers from this program and others will be able to order directly from the farmers.