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New program feeds unemployed workers while supporting local farmers

When one sees empty tables at restaurants during this pandemic, one often thinks of the revenue lost and laid off workers. But there are many more layers to the number of people who are affected.

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By
Mandy Mitchell
, WRAL reporter

When one sees empty tables at restaurants during this pandemic, one often thinks of the revenue lost and laid off workers. But there are many more layers to the number of people who are affected.

"A lot of small farms throughout North and South Carolina relied on restaurants as a important market," said Roland McReynolds, Executive Director of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA).

Restaurant closures and cutbacks leave farmers with nowhere to sell their crops and that led to an idea from the CFSA. They've organized a project called Farms Serving Hospitality and Restaurant Employees or FARMshare.

NC crops

FARMshare will buy crops from farmers, box them up and make them available for free to families of restaurant workers who were laid off.

"We are working with groups of local distributors to assemble food bought from small-scale local family farms that is then repackaged and redistributed to restaurants where the employees can come and pick it up," McReynolds said.

"Each one of the families will receive a box of locally sourced produce and sometimes proteins as well for free, but the farmers will be paid full-market value," he said.

FARMshare is made possible by a donation from Blue Cross Blue Shield and will help to feed 2,500 families during the next 8 weeks, while also helping about 80 farms in need. CFSA is hoping to extend this project to feed more families and is asking for financial assistance. If you would like to help, you can visit their website.
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 Credits

Mandy Mitchell, Reporter
Valerie Aguirre, Producer

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