This post is a part of our “Virtual Community Food Awards,” where we celebrate all the partners that make our work possible. Follow along on social media #CFA2020.
Fresh Farmacy was founded in 2015 on a simple idea: that access to good food is right, not a privilege, and that access to that food (and the knowledge of how to prepare it) is critical to one’s health.
Over its first five years, Fresh Farmacy expanded at a steady pace, gradually increasing from 90 to 280 participants and from three to six partner sites. At first, 2020 seemed on track to continue the trend of gradual program growth.
Then, COVID19 hit, and food insecurity skyrocketed. We knew the need for the program would increase, but could never have predicted how much community members and community organizations would come together to make rapid program expansion possible.
When we approached existing partner sites about starting the program several months early and serving more participants, they were uniformly enthusiastic. As we thought through Coronavirus precautions we could incorporate (like home delivery), they were always helpful and ready to troubleshoot. When we started looking into serving more people, they helped us identify new locations, such as low-income senior housing sites, and subsidized housing sites and helped us get established in those communities. New sites also showed an admirable willingness to jump into hosting a new program, despite the stressful and uncertain times.
Throughout the community, partners and advocates did whatever it took to make Fresh Farmacy work. To name just a few of the many examples:
- At the Thomas Jefferson Health District, staff provided ongoing bilingual communication so that we could serve residents in Southwood, a predominantly Spanish-speaking community.
- A former partner, who was unable to officially participate this year due to budget cuts, directly connected us to their clients in need.
- Yellow Cab and Harvest Moon Catering stepped up to store and pack thousands of pounds of produce each week, and provide home delivery during a critical shelter in place time, despite no prior program experience.
- UVA Aramark donated dozens of hours of staff time to packing and delivering shares.
And of course, this community rose to the occasion, providing the funds required to distribute upwards of 650 Fresh Farmacy shares a week, for far beyond the original program length.
We are so grateful for the willingness we saw to collaborate, advocate, and support Fresh Farmacy. This program is totally community-based, and wouldn’t exist if not for the strong network of businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who believe in the power and importance of food with dignity.
2021 partners include:
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital and Sentara Starr Hill Health Clinic
Westhaven Nursing Clinic
Harvest Moon Catering
Charlottesville Yellow Cab
UVA Dining/Aramark and UVA Facilities
Thomas Jefferson Health District
Crescent Hall Community
Midway Manor Community
UVA Health BeWell
Charlottesville Free Clinic
Charlottesville Area Community Foundation