Donation Station at the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market

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A Donation Station will be at the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market every 3rd Saturday starting May 18th. The Donation Station is a collaboration between N.C. Cooperative Extension and Farmer Foodshare. The program seeks to improve access to fresh, locally-grown food while supporting the farmers who grow it. The Donation Station program is designed to combat local food insecurity while raising awareness that a

healthy local food system must include every community member. Farmer Foodshare is a non-profit organization based in Durham, North Carolina, with a mission to reshape the food system by removing barriers to growing and accessing local food. The partnership between Farmer Foodshare and N.C. Cooperative Extension began several years ago when both organizations realized that Extension Volunteers could play a key role in expanding the Donation Station program. All donations stay local to the market and your community Donation Stations are entirely volunteer-run, meaning this program has no overhead fees. 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, and community members most in need get fresh, local produce that they might not otherwise be able to access.

The US Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a low-income census tract in which at least 33 percent live more than 1 mile from a supermarket or grocery in an urban area or more than 10 miles in a rural area. Food insecurity is when children and adults lack stable access to sufficient quality and quantity of food for average growth and healthy life. Based on those definitions, Rowan County has multiple food deserts or low-income areas with adults and children with limited access to healthy foods. Food deserts are known to lead to poor diets, which contributes to obesity, Type-2 Diabetes, and heart disease.

In 2021, more than 1.2 million individuals in North Carolina, at a rate of 11.8%, faced limited access to nutritionally adequate food. That’s about one in eight people in our state. In Rowan County, the situation is equally alarming, with 11% of households considered food insecure. These numbers highlight the urgent need for initiatives like the Donation Station to address food insecurity in our community.

Meals on Wheels Rowan delivers weekly meals based on food insecurity and the health of the individual. They also partner with Rowan Helping Ministries to deliver USDA food boxes to clients who are at high risk and can’t pick up their own. This summer, N.C. Cooperative Extension, and the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market are partnering together to give the donations given to the Donation Station to Meals on Wheels Rowan. Customers can give monetary donations that volunteers then use to purchase directly from the farmers on the same day, at the market, for the full price or customer may also provide food donations that they have purchased from the farmers that day (buy one, give one approach). Farmers may also donate unsold produce at the end of the market, feeding community members in need and reducing food waste. Fresh, locally-grown food is donated to Meals on Wheels Rowan to be given out to their clients.

So come out to the Salisbury Rowan Farmers Market support your local farmers and help stop food insecurity in Rowan County by supporting the Donation Station too.