Story in Brief
As part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, USDA is exercising authority under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to purchase and distribute agricultural products to those in need. During July, UGA Extension in Telfair County became a collaborative partner for a weekly distribution of the Farmers to Families Food Boxes. Extension has been able to provide an additional two rounds of food box distribution in September and October, resulting in another seven weeks of food box delivery to Telfair County citizens. Extension is also providing SNAP-Ed (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education) materials to participants during the weekly food distributions, in addition to online videos for recipes for using the weekly food box items. The Farmers to Families Food Distribution partnership resulted in a total of 7,048 boxes of food valued at well over a quarter of a million dollars of free and fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat products. For many families, this weekly food box has provided more than just food. It has provided hope and assurance that they are not forgotten and their families are important. Extension’s response required many volunteers weekly to ensure that this initiative ran smoothly and accomplished the goals of providing as many families with food as possible. Each week, Extension coordinated at least 20 volunteers. In an attempt to ensure this food did not go to waste, the Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent authored Facebook videos with quick, easy, and many no cook recipes that would provide ideas on how to easily prepare the food in each week’s delivery. To date, these eight videos have been viewed nearly 6,000 times in 23 states. The Farmers to Families initiative has allowed Extension to reach many individuals within the community who have never used Extension’s services before, with nearly 86 percent of survey participants reporting that they will actively seek out UGA Extension programming in the future. Nearly 95 percent of survey participants of the program report that their family is now consuming more dairy and fresh fruits and vegetables daily. In addition, 100 percent of surveyed participants report that they will continue to look for ways to increase their consummation of dairy, fresh fruits and vegetables, resulting in a much healthier community.