We’d like to give a huge shout out to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association and their FarmsSHARE program for tackling food insecurity in the Carolinas while simultaneously providing market opportunities to local farmers and food hubs like Firsthand Foods. FarmsSHARE provides a free box of locally-grown produce and protein sourced from small, sustainable North Carolina farms to households in need. We’re proud to be a FarmsSHARE partner and the protein supplier for three participating food hubs, including Farmer Foodshare, Sandhills AgInnovation Center, and Working Landscapes.
It all began back in the spring of 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic was surging. Restaurants had closed and hospitality workers were unemployed while local farmers were losing income and accumulating extra food that needed a home. CFSA acted quickly to secure private foundation funding to support a pilot that enabled hospitality workers to pick up a box of fresh produce and local proteins at their former job sites. Food hubs were key to the programs success, since they aggregate food from multiple farms.
Over the past three years, FarmSHARE has grown to include 280 North Carolina farms and 14 food hubs. Nolonger restricted to hospitality workers, FarmsSHARE includes 76 community food access partners, such as food banks and pantries, who distribute boxes to families in need in 55 counties across the state. Last year, CFSA lobbied the state legislature and secured public funds to support the program. Born out of troubling circumstances, FarmsSHARE has matured into an impressive program that fills an important need.