-HOST A DONATION STATION-
Market patrons gather around to hear about healthy food at their market. Farmer Foodshare trains volunteers so they feel comfortable talking with people at the market, and provides educational materials that volunteers can share with visitors.
Caswell County Farmers' Market
Each week at the Caswell Farmers’ Market, there is one table that isn’t selling anything. Instead, that table serves as a collection point for food and monetary donations to feed the hungry. This table is part of Farmer Foodshare’s Donation Station initiative. This nonprofit works across the state to make sure farmers are paid fairly for their food, while also reducing food waste and increasing access to healthy foods.
How can one initiative make such an impact? First, volunteers collect monetary donations from patrons while the market is open. At the end of the market, the volunteers use those donations to purchase food from the market’s farmers at a fair price. Farmers can also donate food that they will not be able to sell later.
All the donated produce is then picked up by the recipient organization, the County Outreach Ministry. Through this program, farmers are paid for their product, food that would have been thrown away is given a second chance, and people who don’t normally have access to fresh produce are given some nutritious options.
The most important part of hosting a Donation Station is having community support. Before this station started, the Caswell Farmers’ Market made sure they had a volunteer base that could be present at each market. All volunteers complete an online training, where they learn about food safety, how to run a Donation Station, and information on hunger in North Carolina. Additionally, the market manager connected with a recipient organization that was interested in distributing fresh produce to hungry people and could handle the weekly drop-off.
Here are the steps to take to start a Donation Station:
Engage Stakeholders: Make sure the manager of your Farmers’ Market is on board with the idea, and identify a lead volunteer who will handle volunteer recruitment and manage the Donation Station. Gather support from the market’s sellers and visitors.
Connect with Farmer Foodshare: The market manager can reach out to Farmer Foodshare to start the process of establishing a Donation Station.
Identify a Recipient Organization: Farmer Foodshare can give you some suggestions on how to approach potential organizations to receive produce. It is important to make sure the recipient organization can handle the amount of produce you will be supplying after each market.
Start Your Station! Once you have the market manager, volunteers, sellers, and recipient organization on board, you are ready to open your station! Farmer Foodshare will provide training for all volunteers, and an easy form to keep track of the donations you collect at each market.