Augusta Health hoping to help food insecurity issues during pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought economic insecurity, that can mean food insecurity as well. Augusta Health is hoping their 'Crops to Community' program will improve food insecurity and benefit farmers.
After seeing how farmers in other communities had an excess of food they couldn't sell, and people who were in need of food, Augusta Health said they wanted to help fill that gap.
"We came up with an idea to aggregate fresh food boxes, and be able to supply those to patients and community members that we identified as having low food access," Krystal Moyers, director of community outreach at Augusta Health, said.
Through their Crops to Community program, Augusta Health is providing boxes of fresh produce to 50 homes in the area. Augusta Health said the hospital was following up with people as they were tested for COVID-19 and checking on their social needs, which included food insecurity.
Moyers said they identified 50 people who would benefit from the program, and all but one person accepted the offer, and that person declined because they had moved out of the area.
"We knew that was indicative of a high need for this program, and in fact we had more on the wait list," Moyers said.
There are several local farms participating in the program, including Malcolm's Market Garden and Cool Breeze Farm. Malcolm's Market Garden grows produce, which they typically sell at the Staunton Farmer's Market and through their community supported agricultural farm share program.
Ashley Malcolm said they've had to adjust some because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they didn't have an excess of produce. However, they were happy to be a part of the program and help provide produce.
"Being able to eat seasonally and local produce is really important for everybody, so the more people who have access to that, the better," Malcolm said.
Andrew Crummet of Cool Breeze Farm said they weren't struggling with an excess of produce either, but they reached out other farms who had excess produce. Joining the program lined up with the mission of their farm.
"When Augusta Health reached out to us, it was a no-brainer for us, we jumped on it right away because we wanted to help and do anything we could," Crummet said.
Crummet added the program has encouraged himself and other farmers to think about ways they can continue giving back, even if this program is over.
However, the program isn't ending quite yet. Moyers said the hospital hopes to increase the number of people they're helping, but in order to do that they need more volunteers to sort food, volunteers to drive trucks, refridgerated trucks, and more farms to purchase produce from.
Moyers said they're also accepting monetary donations, if people want to help but are unable to help fill the other needs. You can find more information about the program