Field to Family’s Farm Stand program offers free fresh, locally-grown foods, prepared food samples, information on food preparation as well as youth food system and nutrition educational activities at various locations in Johnson County during the growing season. Our Farm Stand are operational weekly or bi-weekly April-October at community events as well as neighborhoods located in food deserts.
“Food deserts” are generally defined as areas that have low or inconsistent access to affordable or healthy food, (high poverty rates, limited transportation options and located at least .5 miles away from a grocery store). In addition to free locally-grown food, each Farm Stands will include a mini “Farmer Fair” for all ages! These Farmer Fairs will bring the farm to the community neighborhood with food tastings, chef demonstrations, hands-on cooking and gardening activities, plus fun nutrition and food system educational games.
After analyzing food insecurity in Johnson County over a sixteen-month period, the Johnson County Hunger Task Force generated a range of solutions to help area residents in need increase access to food. In response to the report findings (find link bottom center), the Johnson County Board of Supervisors allocated funding for three new hunger relief programs: A mobile food pantry, a food pantry at a secondary school and farm stands.
In October and November of 2016, Field to Family worked with the Crisis Center’s mobile food pantry, staging the Farm to School Farm Stand alongside their mobile pantry at select locations determined by their knowledgable staff.
Farm Stand Fall 2016 TOTALS:
152 total families served. Of these:
72 total families served at 5 Farm Stands accompanied by the Crisis Center’s Mobile Food Pantry
80 Families served at our one pilot Farm Stand
705 pounds of food distributed at pilot Farm Stand
430 pounds of food distributed at the 3 November Farm Stands
350 approximate pounds of food distributed at 2 October Farm Stands
1,485 pounds of fresh, locally-grown produce distributed to 152 families with about an average of 10 pounds of food to each family.
Springtime will find us back at it again, with an expanded farm stand, offering free produce grown by Grow: Johnson County and featuring food system and nutrition educational activities for kids. We will also have freshly prepared food samples featuring food on the Farm Stand available.
Our Farm Stand program works to support low-income populations and people of color in Johnson County and aims to reduce food insecurity while increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables adults and children consume in Johnson County. In case you didn’t know, the state of Iowa is ranked 46th in the amount of adults consuming the USDA’s daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables.
We are currently working with partner organizations and agencies to better reach our target populations. While we will still seek out locations considered food deserts in Johnson County, we will also work with Backyard Abundance, The Dream Center, Coralville Food Pantry and Sankofa Outreach Connection to reach more audiences. Know of an organization or an event we should set-up our Farm Stand? Please let us know!
Support from the Johnson County Board of Supervisors and the Community Foundation of Johnson County allowed us to begin this program and offer a limited number of farm stands this Fall and upcoming Spring. With further support from the community, we can expand our reach with regular weekly farm stands at select locations, allowing the program to continue past June 2017, bring together additional partners and resources, offer more fresh, local foods all with the goal to reduce Johnson County’s rate of food insecurity. In order to better serve the community, reduce labor expenses and increase our reach, we are building a mobile farm stand. Please consider donating to this project now through becoming a member of Field to Family. We are excited to grow Farm to School in this way, continuing to work with the school district to increase the amount of fresh, local foods kids eat by supporting school gardens, organizing Farmer Fairs at school and in the community as well as procuring locally grown foods for school lunch menus.