Food insecurity in central Massachusetts has increased dramatically in 2020. Farmers are struggling with lost commercial business (restaurants, institutions, etc.). The loss of sales have caused many farmers to turn under crops and to disperse their herds, weakening our local food system. We are one of those families, we are one of those farms.
In June, we formed a small local group aimed at connecting farmers with families to promote a stronger local food economy. We offered a variety of farm boxes for sale at various price points, even offering barter arrangements and payment plans. We didn't make a single sale. When we had to compost hundreds of pounds of broccoli due to lack of sales and an inability to hire farm help, we knew we had to try something different. So, we posted an offer to our community to "Pay What You Can" with the understanding that if a family couldn't pay anything, they could still schedule a pick-up.
Within a day, the post had been seen by 25000 people, and we had received over a hundred messages from families in need and from organizations ranging from homeless shelters to community food pantries. Of those who responded with a need for food, less than 10% indicated that they were able to pay anything.
However, we also had messages from families who were willing to pitch in a little extra or donate funds to cover another family's food.
We want to organize our local farming community by purchasing their available produce and distributing it to families in our area on the same "Pay What You Can" option for families. The funds will help us to serve more families at a time by ensuring that we have ample supply to meet the need.
The funds those farmers receive from our purchases will help ensure their sustainability for next season.
Together we can make central Massachusetts more food secure.