Farmers market adds food pantry booth

During Saturdays at the River City Farmers Market, shoppers will see an extra booth lined up with the produce stands, a new addition set up for food pantries all across Washington County.

Farmers Market President Gary Smith said the partnership with the food pantries is going to be weekly with a different organization to benefit each Saturday.

“I think it’s really going to be beneficial in getting people who need the product the food,” said Smith. “We’re doing it for the whole county; it’s going to benefit the whole area.”

Janet Stacy, of Stacy’s Family Farm, said she got the idea after attending the Athens Farmers Market.

“In Athens, they do something similar (to this),” she said. “We felt that this was something the market could do to help supply the pantries with what they need to help others.”

Through the partnership, the food pantries can go to the market and set up a table free of charge, said Smith. Shoppers at the market can either bring in canned food, or other items the pantry may need, and donate them, make cash donations or they can buy fresh produce from vendors at the market and donate that to food pantries.

“We just want to help the community out,” Smith said.

The first of the pantries to be supplied with fresh produce was the Gospel Mission in Harmar on Saturday.

After receiving about 150 pounds of fresh produce like corn, green peppers, squash and apples, Jeff Waite, who operates the food pantry with wife, Candy, said the produce is going to help a lot of people.

“I think it is a wonderful idea (the farmers market has) come up with,” said Waite. “It takes food grown locally and keeps it in hands locally. I give them a lot of credit, stepping up and doing that.”

Waite said it is an honor to be able to participate.

“It enables us, along with cash donations to buy food, to also have fresh produce we can give out to individuals,” he said. “We’re honored to be a part of that.”