Farms For Life Programs
Farms for Life has a direct approach to fighting hunger. We coordinate with farmers to procure the produce, and communicate weekly with recipient agencies to determine their menu needs. Farms for Life volunteers make weekly deliveries to each shelter. This means program costs are extremely low, and as much as possible of every dollar is used to distribute food. Since it is so fresh (often we can have produce delivered within 3 hours of when it was picked) waste is kept to a minimum. In 2012 we worked with YouthCare, New Beginnings, Orion Center, Elizabeth Gregory Home, the Maltby Food Bank, Hopelink food banks, Hero House, The Sophia Way, Friends of Youth, the St. Cloud Homeless Cooking Project and the Jefferson Community Kitchen diabetes cooking project.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2012 we delivered 14,477 pounds of produce, valued at more than $20,000, enough to provide the vegetable component for 48,000 meals. We keep our expenses low, using volunteers and donated office space, so most of our money is used to get food to people. In just three years we’ve grown from serving 4 shelters to 11, this year adding three shelters on the Eastside. We have put on several fund-raising events and been awarded several grants to help us stabilize and expand. Our board members take an active role in fund raising, grant writing, communications, budget monitoring. Our challenges are to raise funds to pay for more fresh produce, to add more farms to the five that participate now, and to enlist additional volunteers. By far the best measure of our success comes from those who receive our food:
- ”I cook for kids who are used to meat and potatoes and have hardly touched a vegetable in their lives. The kids are now eating Swiss chard!”
Case manager at Casa de Los Amigos (YouthCare)
- “We have an older woman. . . who was a chef until her abuser injured her shoulder. . . When she comes to get her vegetables her excitement emanates out of her and it is definitely one of the best moments of the week for her.”
New Beginnings staff member