FoodChain’s summer was full of putting FRESH LOCAL PRODUCE in the the hands of neighbors and youth!
This year we partnered with two farms to receive any uncollected CSA shares and to use the fruits and veggies in our 2nd summer session of Cook. Eat. Grow. Cooking Class for Kids (sponsored by Good Foods Co-op) as well as our monthly Chat n Chow Community Meal! We were able to stock our meals with so much fresh goodness, one month incorporating 40 pounds of local produce into our meal! When available, we were also able to include local meat and eggs!
In addition to these outlets for our donated then processed produce, we were also able to partner with Elmwood Stock Farm to provide “Grab Bags” of fresh, whole produce for sale each Wednesday at the Bread Box Farmers’ Market! We were able to accomplish this in partnership with UK’s CLD program through a Food Connection Student Opportunity Grant. We had an amazing student partner who flyered the neighborhood to ensure those directly residing in our food desert neighborhood knew about the program, created recipes to accompany the produce, did sampling, and even hand delivered bags to community members unable to make it to the market!
This summer FoodChain partnered with the Lexington Farmers’ Market, University of KY Ag Extension, and Fayette County Farm to School to bring POP (Power of Produce) Club to our Saturday, downtown market! We set up from 9:30-11:30am every Saturday for 8 weeks to provide fresh tastings of local produce for kids, ages 5-12, as well as free activities like veggie printing, scavenger hunts, and tomato judging contests. Each child that participated was able to receive a $2 voucher to spend anywhere at the market on fruits or vegetables of their choice. In those 8 weeks we had 252 total kids participate, with an average of 57 per week, 26% of whom returned, and 64% redemption rate for the $2 produce voucher. This allowed for kids to get excited about choosing fresh produce while generating income for farmers at the market each week. After the POP program finished at 11:30am, Fayette County Public Schools Child Nutrition provided Free Summer Meals to any kid under the age of 18, for those who have limited access and need supplemental nutrition while school is out of session. Next year, FoodChain is looking forward to the chance to expand this program to a full 12 weeks and create more opportunity for affordable access to nutrition through local farmers!