The nonprofit Historic Lewes Farmers Market recently announced its partnership with the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Council on Farm & Food Policy to strengthen the local food system by bringing more fresh food to Sussex Countians in need.
The market was selected to help execute Delaware’s pilot project for the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement, called Farm to Community. As a project partner in this two-year program, the Lewes farmers market will receive a total sub-award of $420,000 to procure, aggregate and distribute produce, meat, eggs and dairy from Delaware small farmers and other local sources to food pantries across Sussex County.
Helaine Harris, HLFM president, said, “This pilot program comes just in time to help families put food on their tables as the emergency SNAP [food stamp] allotments just ended in February. Food pantries help fill the gap for both those receiving SNAP and for those who are just not able to afford enough to eat.” The average SNAP recipient’s benefits are expected to be cut about $90 per month, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The Farm to Community Program also supports the local food system by purchasing food from local farmers.
Demand at food pantries grew last year as retail food prices rose by 11.4 percent nationwide. The HLFM has experience working with local farmers to deliver food to those in need. For the past three years, it has operated a unique initiative, the Food Pantry Purchase Program, whereby the market uses donations to contract with farmers to grow fresh food for Sussex County pantries. Customers at the HLFM’s Saturday markets are also encouraged to purchase a little extra fresh food to be donated directly to the pantries.
The pilot project that will run through Aug. 1, 2024, is made possible with funding from the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Program.
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