In the Big Bend Area, one out of four people struggle with hunger every day. Ironically, almost all these people are from working families, including many dual income families with both parents working more than one job.
High unemployment rates, underpaying jobs, inflation, and costly bills have led to the highest number of hungry people in the United States in 15 years, which is when hunger data first became recorded. The numbers have risen to nearly 50 million, most of which are children.
Unfortunately, Federal Aid and Local Food Banks are only partly fulfilling their purpose. Despite food stamps and the dedication of local food banks, most of the people who need food are not able to obtain it adequately, if at all. Additionally, the food available is laden with unhealthy chemicals and lacks the nutrition which people need.
These demands are what led North Florida Farms to develop a new model for assisting impoverished communities. Our model revolves around the concept of a food bank which supports itself. Other food banks are forced to rely on unstable fund-raising, food donations and are often required to purchase their own food. At North Florida Farms, we grow our own food and distribute it through local community centers, churches, and drop-off locations.
We sell affordable gourmet and heirloom varieties of produce to local consumers and restaurants. These sales provide the funding needed to operate our project, pay the 25 people per acre we hire, and provide food assistance to the needy.
Using a system of checks and balances, we are able to identify the targeted people who desperately need food but cannot afford it – the children, single working moms, disabled, elderly, etc. We also use the interaction with individuals and families as an opportunity to provide solutions for the oftentimes endless cycle of poverty and hunger. Along with food assistance, we provide encouragement and resources to help others become financially self-sufficient. This is a critical step towards creating a self-sustaining community.
While we commend their efforts, most farms and community gardens have low and inconsistent produce yields, require a large amount of resources to operate, and are only able to grow food in the limited growing seasons. Most of these growing systems are at the mercy of Mother Nature and suffer from the effects of weather, insect infestations and plant diseases.
Our extensive research into sustainable agriculture allows us to radically increase our produce yields while at the same time, use little resources (water, land, energy, fertilizer, labor, etc). This cost-efficient system allows us sell produce at an affordable price, pay our employees livable wages, and provide food assistance to those who desperately need it. Because we grow food in controlled greenhouse environments, we are able to provide food all year long and avoid the issues which plague most farms and community gardens.
The end result is a food production system that fulfills the food needs of the community throughout the year, consistently, and with less risk of total failure. People need food and jobs - North Florida Farms is the solution for our community!