ASHEVILLE — Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Appalachian Farms Feeding Families program gets fresh, healthy food to people who need it, while fairly compensating farmers.
Through this new initiative, ASAP is facilitating connections between farms and relief efforts that might not otherwise be logistically feasible and helping to offset costs.
The first phase will focus on rural communities, which are farther away from centralized food resources.
The intent is to reach every county in western North Carolina.
“Our communities are facing unprecedented challenges right now, with many families struggling to access fresh foods,” said ASAP Executive Director Charlie Jackson. “Farms are entering the time of year where production is high, but many have lost market outlets with closures or reduction of service in restaurants, schools, and other institutions. This is a neighbor-helping-neighbor effort that can benefit everyone in the community.”
ASAP will partner with food relief efforts, including food banks, charitable prepared food services, and child and adult care feeding sites.
After assessing food relief sites’ needs, ASAP will contract with a farm or farms to supply food.
The contract will cover costs needed by the farmer and can be customized to fit different sizes and types of farms and relief efforts.
“Farmers are generous, and many are able to give to relief efforts,” Jackson said. “We want to support and celebrate that. Some farms need help with packaging. We can help with that. Some need more support, up to paying full cost. We will make sure this works for the farm and the food relief sites. The goal of the program is to help as many farms and communities as we can.”
One organization participating in the Appalachian Farms Feeding Families program is Hendersonville Spanish Church, which provides food boxes.
“The impacts of COVID-19 have been felt in all socio-economic levels,” pastor Rubi Pimentel said. “Fresh produce will allow us to help bring some hope to our communities and also help stabilize our economy with local farmers.”
Farms and relief agencies that would like to participate in the project should start by filling out interest forms on asapconnections.org.
Support for the Appalachian Farms Feeding Families comes from the Appalachian Grown Farmer Relief Fund. Donations can be made at www.asap connections.org.