The project purpose is to facilitate and increase direct-to-market sales of food products grown by Delaware farmers, to Delaware community members. Over two years, project partners and collaborators will use one-time funds to pilot the purchase of fresh and frozen foods from Delaware farmers and a frozen food processor in the Delmarva region, to develop a long-term model for streamlined procurement with community outlets. The project will 1) establish a farmer cooperative, focused on marketing, promotion to maximize capacity of small, disadvantaged farmers; 2) identify existing community outlets providing food access specifically to under-resourced populations with demonstrated food insecurities; and 3) develop a model enabling small farmers and community outlets (ultimately retailers and other market institutions) to establish procurement relationships.
Pilot project allocates funds to increase purchasing power of two existing ‘community outlets’ (food distribution channels) to purchase directly from farmers; connect farmers, including in the newly formed cooperative with the community outlets– Lutheran Community Services through the Delaware Food Farmacy program, servicing New Castle County; and Historic Lewes Farmers Market through the Epworth Food Pantry servicing Sussex County. Partners include Delaware Farm Bureau, to develop a farmer cooperative and procurement plan. Collaborators include Lutheran Community Services and Historic Lewes Farmers, to facilitate/aggregate purchases from farmers to transport to food pantries for distribution to communities in need. This establishes a replicable and scalable model increasing the number of community outlets within the food distribution network that source local foods and number of farmers that can fulfill demands for local foods.