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F.A.R.M. Cafe in Downtown Boone Receives $3,000 Grant from Watauga Community Foundation

June 16, 2014. F.A.R.M. Cafe is pleased to be the recipient of $3,000 in grant funding from the Watauga Community Foundation in support of the F.A.R.M. Fresh Project.   This project will increase the amount of local, fresh food that F.A.R.M. Cafe serves and enable the Cafe to strengthen partnerships with local farmers and producers.   The funding will also assist the Cafe in expanding the educational outreach we provide in the community about the importance of preparing and eating healthy, seasonal whole foods.

F.A.R.M. (Feed All Regardless of Means) Cafe is located at 617 West King Street in downtown Boone.   Serving lunch daily (except Sunday) from 11-2 pm, F.A.R.M. Cafe uses a “pay-what-you-can” model where each patron determines the price of their meal based upon suggested donation depending on plate and portion size.  Those who cannot provide a monetary contribution for their meal are asked to volunteer for an hour in exchange for their lunch.  In this way, many volunteers learn new skills in preparing and serving meals using fresh, local ingredients.  However, no one is denied a meal at the Cafe, so in circumstances that individuals cannot offer a monetary contribution or work for their meal (e.g. individuals with mental of physical disabilities, single parents with children, etc…) the Cafe uses a meal token that has been prepaid by other patrons to cover the cost of their meal.  In addition to serving wonderful healthy food in an open and welcoming community setting, F.A.R.M. Cafe’s mission extends beyond our tables seeking to further educate our patrons and volunteers while working to create a healthier High Country.

Funding provided through the Watauga Community Foundation will be used to replace inadequate refrigeration equipment with a larger commercial refrigerator, allowing F.A.R.M. Cafe to purchase and store more locally fresh foods.  With a portion of the funds the Cafe has arranged to purchase shares of community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects with North Fork Farm and other local farmers.  Through the year and especially in season fresh produce and meats will come directly from these local farmers and become an increasing part of local food served in the Cafe.  As a part of the F.A.R.M. Fresh project the Cafe will also create and disseminate educational materials about preparing and eating local, seasonal foods and about the Cafe and its mission.  Through partnerships with school counselors in Watauga County the Cafe will reach out to low-income families across the county, inviting them to eat fresh, local foods at the Cafe particularly on snow days and during the summer months when families do not have access to free and reduced school lunch programs.

There is a great need for access to affordable, healthy food in the High Country.  In Northwestern North Carolina 1 in 6 people do not know where their next meal is coming from and among those 18 and younger the numbers rise to 1 in 4 (census.gov, 2010).  Nearly 22% of Watauga County residents live at or below poverty level, and 35% of these individuals living in poverty do not qualify for government assistance (census.gov, 2010).  In May 2012 F.A.R.M. Cafe opened with the goal of providing consistent access to freshly-prepared, healthy, affordable food.  Since that time, F.A.R.M. Cafe has become a place where people of all means enjoy high-quality, healthy meals with their neighbors.  We work daily to provide meals and support our patrons not just to survive but to thrive.

Few low-income individuals in the High Country have access to local, seasonal fresh produce and meat.  Supporting local agriculture and business is important to the mission of FARM Cafe.  The dollars we spend on locally-grown food don’t just nourish our patrons; they nourish the economy of the High Country as well.   Funds from this grant will increase our capacity to store local fresh produce and meat and allow us to establish partnerships with local farmers and farm cooperatives bringing more locally-sourced foods to the tables of the Cafe.

The Watauga County Community Foundation (WCCF) is an affiliate of the statewide North Carolina Community Foundation (NCCF). WCCF was created in 1993 and has 28 endowment funds.  WCCF oversees an annual grant making program through an open application process.  Support for WCCF’s grant making program comes from the Watauga Legacy Fund. The Legacy Funds a general purpose community fund established to serve as a long-term permanent resource helping to ensure a bright future for Watauga.  Since 1994, WCCF has awarded more than $100,000 through more than 100 grants from the Watauga Legacy and Coffee Memorial funds.

The Watauga County Community Foundation has 28 affiliated endowment funds invested through the NC Community Foundation with total assets just under $2.5 million.  Among these funds are 10 scholarship funds supporting graduates of Watauga High School and/or local residents pursuing higher education.  Additionally, there are 10 different “agency” endowments within the WCCF Family of Funds that directly support the work of local nonprofit agencies, churches, and charitable institutions.

In 2013, WCCF’s 28 endowment funds distributed over $72,000 in grants to local nonprofit organizations and more than $27,000 in scholarship support to Watauga County students attending institutions of higher learning.