Donation Stations at Farmers Markets

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Donation Stations use a simple farmers market-based approach to procure donations for local hunger relief organizations while supporting local farmers. During Donation Station days, trained volunteers share information about the program, collect food and monetary donations from market shoppers, purchase fresh produce directly from market vendors, and donate the resulting food to a local food pantry.

N.C. Cooperative Extension – Rutherford County Center, in partnership with the Rutherford County Farmers Market, will offer the Donation Station program again this summer at the farmers market in Forest City. Donation Station days for 2023 are June 10, June 24, July 15, August 12, and August 26. On these dates, customers at the market can donate food purchased from market vendors or make a financial contribution that can be used to purchase products from the vendors.

The great thing about the Donation Station program is that it truly is a win for everyone. The money that is donated gets spent with the local farmers that very same day at that same market and farmers receive full market value for their products. Since Donation Stations are volunteer-run, there are no overhead fees taken out of the donations and all the money stays local. At the end of the market day, any produce that farmers have that will not make it to their next market or sales point can be donated in an effort to divert food waste.

Local food pantries and other food relief organizations in Rutherford County interested in receiving donated food may contact Tracy Davis at N.C. Cooperative Extension at 828-287-6020 or Food pantries must be willing to pick up donations at the close of market day and follow proper storage and distribution guidelines.

Community partnerships and extraordinary volunteers make Donation Stations a success. Last year in Rutherford County, Donation Station volunteers contributed 44 hours and donated 376 pounds of fresh food to three local food pantries in just 4 market days. We are excited to expand this work as we continue to support our farmers and nourish our community in 2023.