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Farm to Senior Services

Project Description

Unlocking institutional markets for local farmers creates profitable market potential, opportunities to improve healthy food options, and greater community resilience. However, institutional local food procurement is often limited by contracts, seasonality, and supply chain logistics. Smaller county-based institutions, such as senior food services, can be more accessible and require year-round volumes that match well with small and mid-scale farms. In addition, senior food services are often connected to local government offices motivated to support the viability of local farmers and food businesses. Senior food services vary but may include home food delivery and congregate meal sites (such as Meals on Wheels) or produce box delivery programs. These services provide healthy, fresh foods to a growing older adult population that often experiences high levels of food insecurity.

This project will create and connect three county-based teams including Extension agents, food councils, farmers, intermediary food businesses, and institutional buyers. The project team aims to improve institutional procurement policy, address procurement challenges of county-based institutions, provide resources and technical assistance for farmers, and support increased availability of local foods for older adult populations in North Carolina. The project will be piloted in McDowell, Scotland, and Warren counties, selected based on their geographic variation, the existence of established food councils, and USDA designation as low income/low access areas. These models will be shared across North Carolina and nationally.

Community Partners

Community collaborators include McDowell County Cooperative Extension, McDowell County Senior Center, McDowell County Local Food Advisory Council, and Foothills Food Hub; Scotland County Cooperative Extension, Lumber River Council of Government’s Area Agency on Aging, ScotLand Grows, and Sandhills AgInnovation Center; Warren County Cooperative Extension, Warren County Senior Center, Warren County Local Foods Promotion Council, and Working Landscapes. Additional partners include Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Isothermal Planning and Development Commission, and Good Food Purchasing Program.

Resources

News

  • Two women bringing food to an older adult

Creating new pathways to bring local foods from farmers to older adults across North Carolina

The Farm to Senior Services project will create and connect three county-based teams including Extension agents, food councils, farmers, intermediary food businesses (e.g. food hubs or aggregators), and senior meal service institutional buyers. The project team aims to improve institutional procurement policy, address procurement challenges of county-based institutions, provide resources and technical assistance for farmers, and support increased availability of local foods for older adults in North Carolina.