–Honoring Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary and #GivingTuesdayNow, A Greener World leads nationwide effort to help farmers deliver products to food banks, schools, homeless shelters and others impacted by COVID-19–
In an effort to match excess supply on farms with unmet demand from food banks, nonprofit farm certifier A Greener World (AGW) has launched a nationwide, community-based fundraiser, ‘Help Farmers Feed Hungry Families.’
With a surge in unemployment, school nutrition program closures and the massive strain on traditional support networks, demand for food assistance has skyrocketed. At the same time, many farms are increasingly challenged to afford production when there is no customer. Some farms whose products are normally processed further (e.g., milk) have even had to dispose of products due to supply chain disruptions and predatory practices by processors. While $19 billion in relief has been promised to support farmers, this funding is expected to benefit large commodity producers. Commodity groups have collectively demanded more funds than are available and there is no information on how independent farms can participate or a timeline for doing so. Farms have been ineligible to relief offered to other small businesses and many traditional sources of loans and funding are inaccessible.
Recognizing the complementary needs of food banks and farms, A Greener World initiated a peer-to-peer fundraiser whereby its certified farms, ranches and producers can coordinate donations to support food delivery to area nonprofits serving community food needs. A Greener World has existing relationships with thousands of independent farmers across the United States and Canada through its certification programs and food labels: Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Salmon Welfare Certified by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW. While some farms in the program have done well with online sales during social distance necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, others have struggled to recover lost markets. Farms that depended upon sales to restaurants, schools, and other institutional customers saw once-reliable income disappear overnight.
Pigeon River Farm in Clintonville, WI saw egg sales drop 90% in three weeks as their biggest customers closed to customer traffic. The farm had been donating their Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW eggs to Interfaith Food Pantry in Portage County, but despite the pantry’s generous efforts to help defray costs was losing money in the process. With enough donor support, the farm can continue to serve local food insecure neighbors through this crisis, cover costs of production and remain in business to serve future customers. April Joy Farm in Ridgefield, WA is also raising funds to provide eggs to Fruit Valley Family Resource Center, a community school which is also home to a Head Start childcare facility for preschoolers where 87% of the students qualify for the free or reduced lunch program. Donations to this fundraiser will ensure Pigeon River Farms and April Joy Farm are able to continue offering high-quality, nutritious, pasture-raised eggs to community members in need–and that other farmers and food banks have the same opportunity.
AGW Executive Director Andrew Gunther says,
“We’ve all seen the heartbreaking images of farmers having to dump milk or leave produce to rot in the field. This is hard for farmers, made even more distressing when so many are facing real food insecurity. While our traditional supply chains are very efficient, they can also be unwieldy–and when they stop, they stop hard, putting a lot of volume on hold. But animals are not a part of the supply chain you can put on pause–they still need to be fed, and they still produce. Many of the supply chains we’re working with are shorter and more nimble, allowing them to be more responsive to changing needs. A laying hen is not a part of the supply chain you can put on pause–you have to keep feeding her.
We realized we have the relationships, experience and administrative resources to help get food to people who need it while helping to keep farms in business. This Earth Day we have the opportunity to support sustainable farming and food security. We call on anyone with a few extra dollars right now–especially those who may not need their stimulus check–to give what they can to help farms and families get through this. We want farms to weather this crisis along with people, and to ensure the long-term health of our sustainable regional food systems.”
ABOUT A GREENER WORLD
A Greener World (AGW) identifies, audits, certifies and promotes practical, sustainable farming systems by supporting farmers and ranchers and informing consumers. AGW’s growing family of trusted certifications includes Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, SalmonWelfare Certified by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW and Certified Non-GMO by AGW. Each program is designed to have positive and measurable impacts on the environment, society and animals, and to encourage truly sustainable farming practices. AGW’s standards and procedures are robust, transparent and achievable.
A nonprofit funded by donations, AGW offers a range of resources to help people make informed food choices, including an Online Directory of certified farms and products and Food Labels Exposed–a definitive guide to food label claims (available in print and online). For more information visit agreenerworld.org.