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Donation Stations seek to improve access to fresh, locally-grown food while supporting the farmers who grow it. They are designed to combat local food insecurity while raising awareness that a healthy local food system must include every member of the community.
Donation Stations are a collaboration between N.C. Cooperative Extension’s Local Food Program Team, Farmer Foodshare, and the Extension Master Food Volunteer (EMFV) Program.
Donation Stations use a simple farmers market-based approach where volunteers
collect food and monetary donations from farmers market shoppers, buy directly
from farmers at the farmers market, and donate the resulting food to a local hunger
relief agency. Family & Consumer Sciences Agents and their EMFVs are working to run these Donation Stations at farmers markets across North Carolina.
In 2022, seven counties had active Donation Stations: Alamance, Chowan, Guilford, New Hanover, Lenoir, Rutherford, and Wayne. These counties collected and spent over $5,000 with local farmers and donated over 4,400 pounds of produce to food insecure populations. Volunteers gave over 400 hours of their time to the program across 68 market days. View the 2022 Statewide Year-in-Review here.
This incredibly successful effort has allowed fresh food to flow locally and has fostered strong community engagement. Funding for the program has come from the EMFV Program and the Local Food Program Team.
Five new counties plan to launch Donation Stations this year.
What can be donated?
The N.C. Cooperative Extension staff member implementing the Donation Station will have a conversation with the food pantry recipient and the farmers market manager leading up to the Donation Station. This will help them gain an understanding of the clients’ needs which can in turn help them when selecting foods at the market. Here is a list of potential donations:
- Eggs, if the pantry has a need and adequate storage is available
- Bread, if the pantry has a need
- Plants that produce food
- Typically meat and poultry are not items for donation as they are more costly. In addition, a Donation Station usually doesn’t have adequate refrigeration to hold meat and poultry.
Why should you support it?
- All donations stay local to the market and your community
- Donation Stations are completely volunteer run, meaning there are no overhead fees for this program
- Farmers and farmers markets gain positive public awareness through community and media outreach
- It’s a win for everyone – farmers get what their produce is worth, community members most at need get fresh, local produce that they might not otherwise be able to access
“Volunteers are vital to the success of [these programs]. Not only are they essential for operating the Donation Station tables, but they play a critical role in communicating the need for access to fresh, healthy food to combat food insecurity and hunger. Volunteers also act as ambassadors – connecting people with their local food systems and farmers.” -Amy Mead, N.C. Cooperative Extension Agent
What is the role* of the partners involved in a Donation Station?
- The State EMFV Team will be responsible for providing comprehensive training and orientation for volunteers, providing essential materials and resources for operation, and assisting with data collection and analysis.
- Farmers Markets will be responsible for providing a space at the market for the Donation Station, advertising and promoting the Donation Station, and providing a space for storing materials, if possible.
- Food Pantries will be responsible for picking up (or receiving) donations at the end of the farmers market, designating a lead contact person within the food pantry, and providing cold storage for donations, if needed.
- The Extension Agent will be responsible for establishing and facilitating
partnerships among parties involved (farmers, farmers market, food pantry, volunteers), selecting a farmers market and food pantry recipient, gathering
equipment needed, and promoting the Donation Station.
- Volunteers will be responsible for volunteering on market days, including setting-up & breaking down the Donation Station, engaging with customers for donations, purchasing food and getting donations from farmers, and helping report donations.
*Some roles may vary county to county.
If you have questions regarding Donation Stations, please contact EMFV Program Manager, Morgan Marshall, at email@example.com.