Agriculture Forum: Farm 2 Neighbor Program Distributes Healthy Food | Companies

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Barkel


People will gather over the next few weeks to celebrate the harvest, their communities, and their faith.

But this time of year can be a challenge for those who do not have access to food – especially the nutritious, high-quality food everyone deserves.

Many people in our region cannot afford healthy food for various reasons – a tragedy, of course, at any time of the year, because access to healthy food prevents diet-related diseases and so many negative health outcomes.

When healthy food is available in pantries, it also creates equity and human dignity for people who suffer from food insecurity.

For these reasons, many people in northern Michigan are especially grateful for the Farm 2 Neighbor program, a collaboration between the Northwest Food Coalition, GoodwillNMI Food Rescue and the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities, which enables the purchase and local distribution of fresh, healthy food from the farmers of our region.

Each group in the collaboration has a special role. The Northwest Food Coalition, a network of more than 60 food, baby supplies, and refreshment centers in a six-county region in northwest Michigan, uses donated funds to buy locally grown and locally produced food for its members.

Food Rescue provides the logistical support required to collect, repackage and distribute the food. Ground staff help coordinate purchases, facilitate decision-making and build relationships with farmers.

For those in need, working with Farm 2 Neighbor increases the amount of healthy food available in pantries and creates opportunities for individuals to make positive choices about their own health.

For farmers, Farm 2 Neighbor offers a guaranteed market, reduces economic burdens and alleviates financial stress – and the associated mental and physical health problems.

From Lakeview Hill Farm:

“This program enables a reduction in food waste on the farm as well as a better way to distribute local organic produce to those who may otherwise not have access to them. As small farmers, we work with tight margins. [Farm 2 Neighbor] provides funds to support the farm and ultimately provide more people with good food. We like to greet our neighbors with good, environmentally conscious food while we can leave the lights on and support our employees. “

This is a critical planning time for farmers when planning the upcoming growing season. Knowing in advance that Farm 2 Neighbor will buy grain during the growing season, farmers can order seeds and plan labor costs and cash flow.

The Northwest Food Coalition, with the support of Food Rescue and Groundwork, wants to get as many sales contracts as possible with farmers for the next year, but to do that, the nonprofits must raise funds now to commit to future orders.

Please consider donating to the Farm 2 Neighbor Program to support this work. Donate by visiting the Northwest Food Coalition website at northwestmifoodcoalition.org/donate.

Funds donated will buy high quality, nutritious groceries from local farms that will be distributed to Northwest Food Coalition pantries and food stations. Thanks very much.

Christina Barkel is a food equity specialist at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities.


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