By Rose Klein
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Chad McCormick is dedicated when it comes to feeding Madison County residents. Once a month, Chad and his father, Allen drive to Quincy, over 180 miles, to bring fresh fruits and vegetables back to Madison, where it is distributed to individuals and families in need. The produce he receives is free of charge, thanks to Farm Share, a large-scale food bank and charitable packinghouse. Farm Share is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, established in 1991, that is dedicated to recovering, sorting, packing and distributing food to people in an effort to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. Farm Share receives USDA commodities and fresh produce, donated from Florida’s farmers, and stores it in packinghouses (such as the one in Quincy), then distributes the food to non-profit organizations where it is passed along to individuals and families. In the past year, Farm Share has provided more than $40 million in food to those in poverty in Florida. Most of the food is distributed through a community network of church food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior centers and veterans groups. It is the largest fresh produce program in Florida and the only statewide and local food bank program that does not charge a fee for any food it provides to community organizations. This is an important distinction that makes Farm Share critical to small community groups, located in poor neighborhoods and rural areas that cannot afford to pay for food. The organization so far has provided more than 23 million pounds of food to over one million low-income Florida families and currently works with 500 community groups, all with the help of donations and volunteers. Farm Share operates from two packinghouses in Florida; the one McCormick collects from in Quincy and one in Homestead. Currently, McCormick is working to bring Farm Share to Madison County. He says that one large advantage to creating a local depot is, it would allow more produce and commodities to be available for local residents. With a depot in town, a Farm Share truck could drive to Madison, where McCormick would like the depot, increasing the number of food deliveries, since McCormick currently has to shave time from his schedule in order for the food to get here. Another advantage is that with the easier access and increase of food, more non-profit agencies could utilize the service, allowing more people to receive food. A closer depot would create an outlet for local farmers, bakers and individuals to donate food that could be stored until it was ready to distribute and would foster a community effort in feeding hungry residents. Volunteering is vital for Farm Share to continue and if local, could provide a means for individuals to fulfill community service and inmates in work release programs to gain community hours. If you are interested in helping McCormick bring Farm Share to Madison County, you can call him at (850) 464-6190 or (850) 929-7561. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Farm Share you can go to their website at www.farmshare.org.