‘Foodshare’ donations help those at risk of hunger

Mar. 09, 2013 @ 12:37 PM

Have you ever visited the Durham Farmers’ Market and wondered about the table at the center of the Pavilion that is collecting donations and has a table full of produce?

Well, that is our Farmer Foodshare Donation Station.

Started in 2009 in Carrboro by Margaret Gifford, the Farmer Foodshare is a non-profit organization that raises funds and donations of fresh foods for people at risk of hunger or malnutrition. Every week, at the Durham Farmers’ Market (and many other local Markets) volunteers set up a table and a jar for donations.  Customers buy food from farmers and donate it, or give cash and the volunteers buy and donate on their behalf. Then, the donated food is distributed to local agencies that increase food security.

This year, the donations from the Farmer Foodshare are going to Iglesia Emanuel, a Hispanic congregation on Roxboro Road. Iglesia Emanuel operates a community kitchen and food pantry, feeding and distributing groceries, now with fresh produce, to 40 families.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to work with Iglesia Emanuel and have enjoyed the relationship that is beginning to take root,” says Katy Phillips, Farmer Foodshare Donation Station coordinator.  She says the staff at Iglesia Emanuel is grateful for the fresh food each week and is interested in collaborating with Farmer Foodshare to host a fundraiser at the Durham Farmers’ Market. The event will help raise money to purchase food at market for the specific purpose of getting more food into the pantry.

In 2012, the total food collected at the Durham Farmers’ Market through the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station totaled 3,689 pounds and total basket cash donations spent at Durham was $2,456. Since 2010, when the Donation Station started in Durham, 9,234 pounds of food have been collected and $5,776 in cash donations have been spent.

In addition to the Farmer Foodshare, for the past 10 years, two hard-working and dedicated Durham Farmers’ Market customers, Ken and Lyn, have been helping farmers transport market day leftovers to people in need.

Near the end of the Market day, Ken and Lyn come with a truck full of empty boxes and leave with boxes full of produce. One week, we weighed what they collected and it was over 600 pounds of food!

The food that is gleaned at the end of the market day is donated to the Urban Ministries Community Café on Liberty Street. Urban Ministries’ mission is to meet emergency needs for food, clothing and shelter; and to help those who are homeless secure a home and the resources to stay there.

To learn more about Farmer Foodshare, visit their website FarmerFoodshare.org.

Erin Kauffman is market manager for the Durham Farmers' Market.