Food for Thought partners with Farmers’ MarketWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local nonprofit Food for Thought and the Toledo Farmers’ Market recently formed a partnership aimed at providing more nutritious food to local families in need.
Starting July 27, Food for Thought will have a booth at the Downtown farmers market, located at Erie Street Market, 525 Market St., every Saturday. The group will accept donations of produce purchased from local farmers at the farmers market. Monetary donations will also be accepted.
“Essentially the idea is it will be a reverse farmers market,” said Sam Melden, Food for Thought’s chief thought officer. “It’s a way for local patrons to buy from local farmers and support a local food pantry. It’s just like this clean circle and we can take it back and integrate it into our food pantries the very next day.”
Food for Thought operates a pantry out of New Harvest Christian Church in Oregon as well as a mobile pantry that visits 11 sites. The group will soon acquire a second mobile pantry and expand service to six to eight new sites, thanks to a grant from ProMedica, Melden said.
“Part of feeding people in a thoughtful way is offering nutritious food. It’s not just about volume, it’s also about quality,” Melden said. “We want people to actually increase their health and increase their access to healthy food, so this is obviously a huge opportunity.”
The idea for the partnership came last year, after Melden was introduced to Westgate Farmers’ Market manager Liz Bergman through a mutual friend.
“We started talking about how both our organizations are really good and how we can help each other,” Bergman said. “Sam’s group does such a good job. We get thousands of people every Saturday so it’s a really great place to meet a broad spectrum of people. Maybe people who could qualify for the food pantry and didn’t know it was in the area. Or people who are excited to give their time or a little of their hard-earned money to people in need.”
Bergman also expects farmers who know they won’t have another chance to sell leftover produce to donate it to Food for Thought so it won’t go to waste.
“It just makes sense,” Bergman said. “A lot of other farmers markets all throughout the country do this. We don’t have a full-time person working for the farmers market, so these are the extra things that take a while to get going. But hopefully it works out.”
If the partnership is successful Downtown, it may expand to other farmers markets, Bergman said.
“The people at the farmers market often are interested in two things: They are interested in health and they are interested in the local food economy,” Melden said. “All our table is there for, all we are doing in that space, is saying we agree and we believe even if someone isn’t here shopping they should have access to this quality of food and so we want them to help us pull that off. I think it’s going to be great.”
The Toledo Farmers’ Market is open year-round: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays May through November and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. December through April.