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South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture has announced a new program to help ease the strain on the food system caused by COVID-19.
According to a news release from the nonprofit, it has partnered with Certified South Carolina to form Farmers to Food Banks, an initative to support farmers and South Carolinians in need. The program will purchase food from S.C. farmers and then distribute it to local food banks. The goal is to raise $500,000, with several donors already making commitments.
With the closure of schools, restaurants and other businesses earlier this year because of the pandemic, many farmers are having trouble finding markets for their products, and with unemployment at record levels, many South Carolinians are seeking food assistance.
"Farmers to Food Banks solves two problems with one charitable effort: helping the needy while supporting the South Carolina farmers who work hard to feed us all," said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers in the release, who serves as an adviser to South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture. "People want to lend a hand during these difficult times, and this is one simple way they can do so."
The program will complement the federal Farmers to Families Food Box program, a COVID-19 response effort which uses tax dollars to buy and distribute commodities.
With a quick launch and brief fundraising period, the Farmers to Food Banks program aims to quickly address needs by buying food and distributing it to Feeding America food banks, potentially filling gaps in the federal effort. The program will accept applications from distributors, 15 of which have formally expressed their interest already.
Launched in 2006, Certified South Carolina is the South Carolina Department of Agriculture's branding program to promote South Carolina-grown food to consumers.
South Carolina Advocates for Agriculture is a 501(c)3 created in 2005 to help promote agriculture in the Palmetto State. Previous successful partnerships between Certified and Advocates include the 2015 flood relief effort Plant It Forward SC and fundraising campaigns to provide scholarships for the South Carolina Commissioner's School for Agriculture.
Those interested in donating or participating in Farmers to Food Banks can contact Cristina Key at email@example.com or (803) 734-2190 for more information.
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