Local Foods Resources for Challenging Times

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Our encounter with coronavirus has certainly brought about many changes and concerns for us all. Most of us have experienced a trip to the grocery store where shelves or cooler space were missing items on our list. Restaurants are having to scale down their menu. Before this is over, most of us will be making adjustments to our diet and routine based on food shortages and selection, and many of us may learn how to start our own garden. Our awareness and appreciation for local farming operations and locally grown food will certainly increase from this experience.

If the grocery store supply is low, do you know where to find local food? Cooperative Extension has a program to help learn and connect local communities with our local food resources. Would you like to know where to find locally grown produce, meat, and eggs in Sampson County? Visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Sampson County Center webpage for a list of locally grown food producers across the county.

We will continue to update this page with local resources and opportunities, so be sure to save it for future reference. Any local growers wanting to be added to the resource page can call our office and we will gladly add their contact information. Please call Betty Draughon at 910-592-7161 for more information on the local foods resource page for Sampson County.

I’ve included the following article to help explain the Local Food Program of N.C. Cooperative Extension and how the program helps local communities connect, especially now. This article was written by Hannah Dankbar, Extension Local Food Flagship Program Manager for North Carolina Cooperative Extension and NC State University. More information about the Local Foods Program through Cooperative Extension.

North Carolina Cooperative Extension and many organizations and stakeholders are working with our communities on the development and expansion of local food systems across the state. This Local Food web portal has been developed by North Carolina Cooperative Extension to provide local food systems resources and timely information to all residents and businesses across the state. The goal of the website is to provide information and link to resources from Cooperative Extension as well as from other NC organizations and state partners working on local food programming. It is a dynamic portal and is intended to include new resources as they are developed over time.

In 2012, Local Foods was named as N.C. Cooperative Extension’s first Flagship Program. The Local Foods Program is a collaborative program of The Cooperative Extension Program of North Carolina A&T State University and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service of North Carolina State University.

What are local food systems? Though there is no generally agreed-upon definition for ‘local’ food or ‘local food systems’ (Martinez, et al, 2010), the language of local food systems generally refers to the geographic context in which food is produced, marketed, and consumed and all other intermediary supply chain steps taking food from farm to table. Additionally, localized food systems are place-specific and seek to embed the production, distribution, and consumption of foods in community relationships. Farms, from large to small and from conventional to certified organic, are finding opportunities to engage in the local foods market opportunities across the supply chain in the state. The US Department of Agriculture has linked local foods to many of its key priorities such as food access and nutrition, enhancing rural economies, the environment, addressing consumer demand, and improving profitability of agricultural producers and strengthening markets. The USDA recognizes that consumer demand for local foods has been growing in recent years and that federal, state and local policies are responding. A recent congressional mandated report states, “Producer participation in local food systems is growing, and the value of local food sales, defined as the sale of food for human consumption through both direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets) and intermediated marketing channels (e.g., sales to institutions or regional distributors), appears to be increasing.” (Low et al 2015) Practically, many local food system efforts in North Carolina also include a focus on nutrition and health or community development, from community and school gardening to economic development to food justice. Therefore, beyond the supply chain, support for local and community-based food systems is far-reaching and far-ranging.

NC State Extension offers a comprehensive web portal about the Local Foods Program, which is intended to share the work and research being done in Extension, and provide connections to resources and information to those working to support developing local food systems. For those interested in weekly updates on news items published to this web portal, they can subscribe to email updates. Also, local food system activities are shared through the Local Food – N.C. Cooperative Extension Facebook page.

For more information about finding or growing local foods in Sampson County, contact us at the office at 910-592-7161.