Zebulon NC is an area with a high number of students in free/reduced school lunch programs. During summer break, the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market is working with the “Kids Summer Meals” program to provide free nutritious meals to area children.
Starting Saturday, June 18, 2016, 9am-1pm, the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market (ZFFM) will be providing food to any child who asks at a special market booth. The program will continue until school begins in the Fall. Working with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, the Kids Summer Meals program booth will distribute free shelf-stable meals to children. All the kids need to do is ask, no documentation required. Because of Zebulon schools’ number of free/reduced school lunches, area kids are eligible to receive these free meals.
For the Kids Summer Meals Program, ZFFM volunteers pick up the shelf-stable meals for an estimated number of local children in need. As they move forward in this first year with the program, the number of meals available may be increased. Extra will be on-hand Saturday to ensure all who ask may be served. If the number of meals needed increases, the market can request more.
ZFFM is just starting its second season, with a new location at the Zebulon Municipal Complex, 1003 N Arendell Avenue, in Zebulon NC. This location just off the highway, and across from the Triangle East Center (the Food Lion plaza). The market opened May 7, and runs through October 8, 2016. Vendors from last year join new farm vendors this year, offering produce, eggs, meats, and locally-made goods alongside artisan creations. This year’s more visible location has already increased market traffic and brought new customers to ZFFM.
For 2016, ZFFM is also working with the “Farmer Foodshare” program, providing needy families with fresh produce through the food pantry at Zebulon United Methodist Church (UMC). Farmer Foodshare accepts donations of money and farm produce at a ZFFM Donation Station. The food and money donated goes to the food pantry, furthering local access to fresh food. ZFFM works with Zebulon UMC by providing a produce scale, tent, market space, and other equipment. Zebulon UMC volunteers man a market booth each Saturday and distribute donated food locally. Donation data is tracked and that information sent to the Farmers Foodshare program weekly.
So far, says ZFFM Manager, Maurine Brown, the program is exceeding all expectations. Donations have been high from market customers, some of whom purchase from market vendors and drop their purchases off at the Farmer Foodshare booth. Some of the participating farmers donate leftover produce at the end of the market day. The customer-farmer generosity had helped to make Zebulon’s contributions to Farmer Foodshare one of the highest in the entire state!
“This helps farmers and local families in need,” says Ms. Brown. “One of our farm vendors says that Farmer Foodshare is one of their best customers!”
In addition to the free Kids Summer Meals and the Farmer Foodshare program, the ZFFM also does EBT matching — doubling purchases made with these cards — and several Saturday vendors accept WIC vouchers.
Farmer Food Share information is online at www.farmerfoodshare.org.
The Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s “Kids Summer Meals” program is online here.
The USDA Summer Food Service Program is online at www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/summer-food-service-program.
Not located near Zebulon NC? The USDA lists summer meals programs on this searchable website: www.fns.usda.gov/summerfoodrocks. The USDA estimates more than 200 million free meals will be provided to minors through approved Summer Food Service program sites like the Zebulon Farm Fresh Market.