An Update from our Executive Director Regarding COVID-19: Part 3

We are so grateful for all the ways folks are supporting our work at this critical time. Last night we just received our first gift from someone paying forward their stimulus check. She wrote, “Thanks friends for all you do! Feds gave me $1,200, so I’m giving it to you. xoxo.” Someone else chose to start a monthly gift of $10/month to support our work through this challenging time, and in the months ahead. Whether you are able to give $10 or $1,200, we are grateful for your investment. Know that we are putting it to use right away growing and sharing healthy food with those who need it most right now.

For those of you who give by volunteering, we can’t wait to have you back with us. For now you can follow us on Facebook or Instagram for video updates from the farm! And for those of you who may have supported us in the past, but are facing new barriers and new challenges… know that we are thinking of you. Many are facing food access challenges for the first time. If we can be helpful in connecting you to resources, including our own programs and food distribution networks, please let us know. You can call 804-266-1914 or email programs@shalomfarms.org.

As things continue to ramp up, we are committed to providing ongoing updates on our work. Below are just some of the ways Shalom Farms is rising to meet the growing need for healthy food in our community:

Our Farms:
Thanks to your generous support and a grant from the Central Virginia COVID Response Fund at the Community Foundation, we have been able to hire temporary farm help during this critical time. We were honored to be among the 25 organizations funded in the first round. To date we have put 41,416 plants in the ground with many more to go! And we’ve been able to donate more than 1,000 transplants to community partners, most going to the Resiliency Garden Initiative. As our harvests start to pick up considerably, we are developing new systems to ensure we can safely harvest and pack thousands of lbs. of food each week with less volunteer labor.

Our Nutrition Distribution Partnerships:
We have been in frequent conversation with our partners at FeedMore and we anticipate growing over 250,000 servings of produce for them in the coming months. We continue to talk with FeedMore and community-based food pantries about the safest and best way to distribute this food. Among the immediate challenges is developing a plan to pack our produce in smaller units. This will reduce the amount of sorting and re-packing that volunteers at FeedMore and other agencies need to do.

Our “Grown to Go” Mobile Market:
With unemployment and underemployment growing at record rates, we are looking at ways to use our versatile Mobile Market vehicle to get healthy food to more people than ever before… including many who have never previously needed our services. We are exploring ways to get pre-bagged and/or pre-ordered produce safely to our most vulnerable neighbors. We are also in conversation with community partners about ways the market locations can be used to distribute other critical resources and information. If weather and resources allow, we hope to move up the start of our Mobile Market season from June to May!

Earning and maintaining trust has always been one of our top priorities. That is especially true during these extremely challenging times. For those of you who trust us to provide you with access to safe healthy food, please know that you are our top priority, now more than ever. And for those of you who trust us with your resources, know that your support is valued, now more than ever, and that we will continue to carefully steward your investment in building a healthy community.

For those of you still in a position to give, whether it is $10 or a $1,200 stimulus check, please know that we are grateful for your generosity and will be putting it to use right away.

With Gratitude,
Dominic Barrett
Executive Director