The Austin-based nonprofit looks to raise $15,000 for FarmshareATX education and food access programs.
Each year, on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, global communities come together to support initiatives and promote actions centered on the spirit of giving. Giving Tuesday 2021 is a chance for people to unite through generosity in all its forms by sharing acts of kindness and giving their voice, time, money, goods, and advocacy in support of communities and causes.
This Giving Tuesday, Texas Innovators spotlights Farmshare Austin and their work to grow a healthy, just, and equitable local food system by increasing community access and cultivating new farmers. The Austin-based nonprofit looks to create a future of resilient local food economies through equitable access to food and the resources needed to farm.
Food Insecurity in Texas
With the holiday season drawing near, Farmshare Austin’s efforts provide support for individuals and families struggling with food insecurity in Central Texas. It’s estimated that 13% of Texas households, or 1 in 8 Texans experience food insecurity. That translates to 1.4 million Texas households and nearly 4 million individuals, with Texas coming in as one of only 9 states with higher food insecurity than the national average.
As communities with food insecurities struggle to stay ahead of the demand, access to food becomes a critical issue faced by many individuals and families.
"Located on a 10-acre certified organic farm, we have a mission to grow a healthy, just and equitable local food system by increasing community food access and cultivating new farmers,” Farmshare Austin Executive Director Andrea Abel said. “In the last 20 months since the onset of the pandemic, we pivoted our Fresh for Less food access program to provide reliable, affordable weekly produce and groceries through home Curbside Delivery.”
Connecting food access programs to the produce grown onsite, Farmshare Austin reaches food insecure communities throughout the region, providing a lifeline to many families from 2020 to now. With its educational objective, the nonprofit helps to grow more Central Texas farmers to strengthen the local food system through the Farmer Starter program. Participants in the program take part in a 20-week program designed to give aspiring farmers the tools and essential skills needed to manage a sustainable farming business. The community is also able to participate in classes and continuing education workshops for working farmers.
These valuable programs have seen an increase in participation as food prices surge and access has posed a challenge in the COVID era. “The class size for our 20-week Farmer Starter beginning farmer training program has tripled since the beginning of the pandemic as folks recognize the critical importance of a healthy, resilient local food system. We practice "need-blind admission" for our students, ensuring scholarships and workshare to meet every student's financial need,” said Abel.
It's Time to Stop Hunger in Texas
Working in tandem with its educational pursuits, the organization’s food access program delivers results in the form of providing healthy, sustainably produced food to populations with the least access to it. Farmshare Austin also forges community ties and partnerships to address cultural and cost hurdles. This is done through Mobile Markets that bring food access directly to neighborhoods challenged by geographic and economic barriers. As part of the City of Austin’s Fresh for Less Initiative, the farm stands offers produce grown on the Austin Farmshare farm and other Texas farms to provide high-quality, shelf-stable food products at reduced prices.
This Giving Tuesday and in the weeks to come, Farmshare Austin is appealing to Central Texas communities to consider lending their support to help sustain the nonprofit's endeavors in delivering valuable programs and resources to those in need.
“Over the next six weeks, we are asking you to join us in raising $15,000 that will go directly to Farmer Starter scholarships and growing the freshest, most delicious and nutritious organic veggies for our Fresh for Less food access customers," Abel said.