During the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke Farms pivoted their farming and community garden operations in response to immense local food insecurity experienced by New Jersey residents.
Typically, the beef and vegetable farming program supplied the café with high quality, sustainably-grown food. Seeing the increased demand on food banks in the local community was a deciding factor for the nonprofit organization to donate the farm to fork café food to area soup kitchens, according to information provided by the farm.
In partnership with this effort, the Duke Farms Community Garden, composed of more than 500 Somerset County residents, expanded a preexisting and robust volunteer giving program. About 6,300 pounds of fruits and vegetables have been donated thus far to food banks and soup kitchens, according to the statement.
Between the two arms of the donation programs, the following totals were delivered to Feeding Hands throughout Somerset County, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Jewish Family Services in Bridgewater, Holy Trinity Church in Bridgewater, St. Ann’s Church in Raritan, Hillsborough Township Food Bank, Pentecostal Church in Somerville, and the Bound Brook School District: 4,200 pounds farm produce, 2,000 pounds of beef, 1,080 dozen eggs and 6,300 pounds of community garden-grown produce.
“Duke Farms’ farmers and our community gardeners are helping feed those in our community without access to fresh, healthy food, a gap that has grown wider with this pandemic,” Executive Director Margaret Waldock said in the statement. “We are honored to help and find hope and inspiration from the land and each other during these difficult times.”