Boone County is trying to help two types of people with one kind of purchase.
This month, Boone County provided funds to Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture to purchase produce and deliver it to mobile food pantries, to help both local farmers and families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CCUA news release.
The Boone County commissioners agreed at their May 5 meeting to spend $12,500 in May to support the CCUA food purchase program. Those funds come from approximately $500,000 provided each year by BJC Health Care, which runs Boone Hospital Center, for county health and wellness initiatives.
Commissioner Fred Parry noted at the meeting that the food items being purchased might have to be thrown away by local farmers and go to waste if the county didn’t step in with this program.
CCUA buys bulk fruits, vegetables and eggs from mid-Missouri farmers at Columbia Farmers Market, according to the same release. Farmers provide the list of available produce and the price quotes every week, then CCUA makes the purchase decision based on the need from pantries and the price of the products, Billy Polansky, CCUA’s executive director, said in an email to the Missourian.
“Using the information from these bids, we make the best use of the funds the county has provided us. Produce and eggs are being delivered to the Food Bank, Tiger Pantry, Central Pantry and Boys and Girls Club, depending on the community’s need and each organization’s capacity to distribute the food in a given week,” Katie Molitor, CCUA’s assessment manager, said in the release.
CCUA purchased and delivered 1,132 bags of lettuce and 1,100 dozen eggs in the first two weeks, Molitor said.
CCUA’s contract with the county was for May, and the county will make a decision on whether to renew in June, Polansky said in the email.
Polansky mentioned in the news release that less than 1% of food bought in Boone County came from local farmers.
“We’re glad that we can use these funds from the county to both support small family farms in mid-Missouri and families who need food assistance. It’s a win-win scenario,” Polansky said.
He also said that this relief program with the county’s support, along with other efforts, “gets the food grown by local farmers on to the dinner table of local families.”
“Our farmers work hard to produce food for our community,” Corrina Smith, executive director at Columbia Farmers Market, said in the release. “While Columbia Farmers Market remains open, many of the other outlets our producers sell to are closed.”