We are excited to share the latest efforts of The Farm to continue to give back to our community. We have started a "gift card" distribution pilot program aimed specifically to help empower schools to help those students (and their families) who face food insecurity on the weekends.
In April, The Farm was the recipient of seedlings from the garden program at R.E. Baker Elementary School. Those seedlings were planted at The Farm with the continued goal of giving the harvest away to the hungry in our community. However, we did not anticipate just how an opportunity like this could actually be directed back to the students at R.E. Baker who need it the most.
Unfortunately, current regulations do not allow food to be given directly to the school, so that just meant we would have to find a creative way of getting the food into the hands of those who needed it. We wanted to complete the circle of giving.
From the minds of many, a Gift Card program was developed with the goal of allowing the school social workers to distribute free gift cards to the students & families facing hunger. The Gift Cards can be redeemed for free food at the Cobblestone Project Farmer's Market booth every Saturday.
Here is that story...
How the program is working...
- Cobblestone Project Farm Gift Cards are distributed by the school social workers to students already identified as facing food insecurity on the weekends. Currently these are the students receiving the benefit of a Snack Pack for Kids program (info below).
- Gift Cards can be redeemed for free produce at the Cobblestone Project Farmer's Market Booth on the square in Bentonville every Saturday.
- Gift Cards can redeemed through out the entire growing season.
- Gift Cards currently can be redeemed seven times, and then new Gift Cards will be provided so that no one is turned away.
- Currently Gift Cards are numbered so we can track redemption; however, the program is anonymous to ensure confidentiality & maintain dignity for those families in need.
- Over the coming weeks we will also be providing these families with other basic need items and info on other services in the community (i.e. Laundry Love Project).
For more information...
- The Snack Pack for Kids Program was developed and is operated by the Samaritan Community Center. Currently over 3,500 snack packs are given away every week to students at risk for hunger over the weekends when school meal programs are not available.
- The Garden program at R.E. Baker was made possible by ScottsMiracle-Gro's "Give Back To Gro" national community garden outreach program.
- The Farm is made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Cobblestone Project, Downtown Bentonville, Inc., the University of Arkansas Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Services and with the support of Walmart Stores and World Garden.
- All of this could not be possible without the incredible efforts of Mark Bray, University of Arkansas Depart of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Services, who has brought all of these partners together to build pathways leading to solutions to end hunger in our community.
Thank you to all the people and organizations that made this pilot program possible, and we eagerly await the opportunity to expand the program over this season and next.
If you would like to be involved in the continued development of these efforts, please visit The Farm initiative page on the Cobblestone Project website for more information, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be in touch.
If you would like to participate in the distribution of Farm Gift Cards, please send an email to email@example.com with contact information and a brief overview of how they will be used.