The North Carolina Farms SHARE program will build on the success of the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association efforts started in 2020 as a response to COVID-19, increasing access to fresh, healthy, locally-grown food in underserved communities across our state while investing in small North Carolina businesses to cultivate a stable, thriving local food system. Specifically, we will a) work with 15 food hub partners and at least 200 community-based organizations to procure and distribute ~133,000 boxes of local food, b) provide technical support to food hub partners on food safety and implementing Quality Management Systems (QMS) and standard operating procedures to ensure compliance with program requirements, and c) provide technical assistance to small-scale farms on fresh produce safety, postharvest handling, scaling up, and product specifications for food box distribution programs. We anticipate 450 local producers will participate in the program, 210 of whom will be socially disadvantaged. We will use $6,284,250 (82.5% of award funds) to purchase local food, distributing 133,000 boxes to individuals and households in underserved communities through at least 200 distribution locations in underserved communities. Out of total funds expended to purchase local food, it is estimated that $2,492,750 of food will be purchased from socially disadvantaged producers.
One hundred and ninety-three producers (43%) will gain new marketing opportunities through this funding, and 257 producers will sustain and enlarge existing marketing opportunities. Forty-eight percent of producers establishing new marketing opportunities will be socially disadvantaged producers. Sixty-one percent of purchases will be distributed beyond current food distribution networks to serve underserved communities.