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Farmer Foodshare Donation Station returns for its 8th season at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market

BOONE, N.C. – On April 1, Hospitality House, Hunger & Health Coalition, F.A.R.M. Café, and Casting Bread will kick off the eighth year of the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station program at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market. 

The Farmer Foodshare Donation Station is a simple concept that began in 2016. 

  1. Volunteers from one of four partner organizations work at the donation station.
  2. Farmers’ market guests make a small or large cash donation. 
  3. Toward the end of the day, the partner organization purchases food from farmers at the market.
  4. The donations support local farmers and help partner organizations get fresh, healthy food for the people they serve.
  5. Everybody wins!

Hospitality House Chief Development Director Todd Carter reflected on the organization’s long-standing participation in the program. “Hospitality House is proud to continue this collaboration with our fellow “hunger-fighting” partners. The mission of the Farmer Foodshare Donation Station is two-fold; increasing access to locally grown food for households who can’t afford it, and financially supporting local farmers who are essential to our community.”

When it comes to community, the farmers’ market is bustling with people who are excited to connect with others. “I see the foodshare program as another way of building community between the food banks, the market, all the generous vendors, and the general public,” said Amy Van Devender, board chair for Casting Bread. “It is such fun to talk to people walking the aisle of the market, many of whom contribute at the donation station or sign up to become volunteers.” Locals are not the only patrons at the Watauga County Farmers’ Market. According to Van Devender, “Visitors from out of town often stop by to chat. Lots of them are involved in food insecurity programs at their homes and love to learn how things work here.”

This season’s foodshare program will welcome a new organization. “The Farmer Foodshare program is a valuable asset to our community, and we are thrilled at the invitation to participate,” remarked Elena Dalton, executive director at F.A.R.M. Café. “Donations will be utilized for lunch service and outreach efforts to support increased access to meals prepared with local ingredients for all F.A.R.M. Cafe’s diners, regardless of means.”

Foodshare purchases add diversity to the items available to people who utilize partner organizations’ resources. “Participating in the Farmer Food Share program allows the Hunger and Health Coalition to bring in valuable fresh produce into our facility to disperse to our clients,” said Hunger and Health Coalition Community Engagement Coordinator Kayla Lasure. “While our food pantry is able to provide nonperishable foods to our clients, being able to provide fresh produce is crucial to the health and well-being of our community. It also doubles as a way for us to also continue to invest in local farms and the economy. It’s a win-win for all of us.” 

The High Country eagerly anticipates the return of the farmers’ market each spring as the go-to place to find fresh produce, handcrafted creations, meat, eggs, High Country photography, and so much more. Market Manager Michelle Dineen reports, “We are looking forward to our very best season to date! We have an incredible group of vendors this year and so many exciting things planned to highlight our amazing community of growers and makers.” The market is open every Saturday, April through November, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Horn in the West parking lot.

Find out more about the Watauga County Farmers’ Market at www.wataugacountyfarmersmarket.org.

Find out more about Hospitality House at www.hosphouse.org.

Find out more about Hunger & Health Coalition at www.hungerandhealthcoalition.com.

Find out more about F.A.R.M. Café at www.farmcafe.org.

Find out more about Casting Bread at www.increasefoodsecurity.org.