It has been theorized that at least part of the solution to the hunger problem in the United States could be found in its landfills.
That’s because these days, literally tons (up to 40%) of the country’s food ends up being thrown away or composted before its expiration date.
Meanwhile, there are families that can barely afford to feed themselves even with cheap, processed food, much less get access to the fresh produce that is ultimately thrown away every day.
That being the case, bridging that gap to get that thrown-away food into the hands of those who need it would go a long way toward ending food security in this country.
Locally, there’s an organization whose mission is to do just that.
Seeds That Feed got its start in 2012, with co-founders Aron Shelton and Alyssa Snyder introducing themselves to the community at the first ever Dig In Food Festival. That same year, they began stationing themselves at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market three days a week to start the process of forming relationships with the farmers. Since then, those farmers have donated over 26,000 pounds of their unsold fresh produce to the program to be distributed to hungry families in the region.
The organization has a name for their process of redistributing healthy food to those who need it; “Carecropping.”
This month, Seeds that Feed unveiled their newest tool to help continue their mission, a box truck they’ve retrofitted into the region’s first-ever mobile produce pantry.
The conversion of the truck was made possible by a $30,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation.
They officially unveiled the mobile pantry on July 18 at the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, where they encouraged residents to buy a little extra produce to help stock the truck. Several market vendors also donated some of their unsold produce to the cause.
After that, they headed to Hillcrest Towers, a low-income senior citizen apartment complex in downtown Fayetteville, where residents were able to take fresh produce from the truck. Seeds That Feed also passed out a free “cookbox,” their version of cookbooks filled with recipes and instructions on how to prepare the donated produce.
“We had an a amazing turnout,” said Margaret Thomas, director of Seeds That Feed. “When we got there after the market, residents were already lined up. We were able to serve 54 people that afternoon.”
Seeds That Feed held a similar event at Washington Plaza Apartments earlier this week, and future events are planned at Nantucket senior community and at a low-income apartment complex called Willow Heights.
In addition to these events, Seeds that Feeds still picks up leftover market produce to deliver to local food pantries and community meals.
The new truck, however, will allow the group to get fresh produce into the hands of even more people that need it.
“Up until now, we’ve only been taking it and delivering it (to the food pantries and community meals),” Thomas said. “This year with the truck, we’re really able to take it to the next level”
Most of the produce they distribute is donated from the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market, but Thomas said that locals with extra produce from their gardens can donate that to the program as well.
For more information, or to donate, contact Thomas via email, or by calling 901-647-1248.