Laying the Foundations for Springtime Growth
Like many of the farmers in our region, FRESHFARM’s Pop Up Food Hub takes a break over the winter to rest, regenerate, and prepare for the upcoming season. This time to evaluate the successes and challenges of 2020 and plan for 2021 is especially critical after a year of incredible growth for the Pop Up Food Hub. In response to the pandemic, and the dramatic need for fresh food that it caused, the Pop Up Food Hub scaled up by 600% in 2020 to serve the most vulnerable in our community. Additionally, over the past year the Pop Up Food Hub and FoodPrints have developed exciting new ways to collaborate and integrate our food access and food education work. While the winter season may be a quieter time, the team is hard at work planning for the spring and laying a solid foundation for the year ahead.
This past summer, food delivery to FoodPrints students’ homes was a critical component of our work to continue FoodPrints programming for students during the pandemic. The Pop Up Food Hub facilitated deliveries, bringing fresh produce from the farmers market as well as the cooking and gardening supplies students needed to participate in their virtual FoodPrints classes. This summer program served a small pilot group of students, and we aim to launch new ways to distribute fresh fruits and vegetables to even more students and their families this year.
While students continue to participate in remote education, we’re working to provide them with the resources they need to continue learning in their FoodPrints classes. Over the winter, FoodPrints Lead Teacher Ms. Tailor is shopping every week at the Dupont farmers market for food that FoodPrints families at Marie Reed Elementary can pick up on Tuesdays, in advance of their virtual FoodPrints lessons on Wednesdays. We expect to offer more pickup options at more FoodPrints schools in the early spring when Pop Up Food Hub purchasing and delivery returns for the season.
The Pop Up Food Hub and FoodPrints programs will continue to integrate their work to bring quality food education and food access to more community members in 2021. This year, we’re developing innovative ways to bring the educational curriculum of FoodPrints to our Pop Up Food Hub early childcare education partners. These partners currently place regular wholesale produce orders through the Pop Up Food Hub to provide local fruits and veggies to the families they serve. Working directly with the staff of these childcare centers, we aim to offer training and educational support to help staff and families create an environment where children feel safe in experiencing new foods and talking about their food experiences. Paired with the local produce deliveries from the Pop Up Food Hub, this training and curriculum will help cultivate healthy food habits and food culture within these childcare communities.
Over the last year, the pandemic forced our programs to pivot quickly and dramatically to make sure we could continue providing fresh produce to vulnerable families, scale up to meet the increased need of the community, and deliver substantive food education to students who could no longer attend school. We are grateful for the quiet, regenerative period of the winter season to build on this growth and lessons learned and plan for an even more successful 2021.