Web Exclusive: Alabama-grown food program takes on economy, education, health challenges


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WZDX) – It’s the fifth year food bank workers in Huntsville, Alabama are changing the state’s economy, education, and health with food.

The Food Bank of North Alabama’s Farm Food Collaborative is getting Alabama-grown produce into more hands. It’s breaking barriers in more than just hunger.

Alabama-grown farm fresh food is getting into school districts, early education sites, grocery stores, and restaurants through the FFC. It’s not just about growing food; it’s about growing ideas, like that local produce is within reach. 

“The whole mission of the Food Bank of North Alabama is to feed those who are hungry today and also to help create solutions to end hunger tomorrow,” said Carey Martin-Lane, FFC co-manager.

That means farmers so they can expand and tax dollars are spent in the state. In the past five years the program has helped farmers generate over $2 million. And if farms are doing well…

“The more jobs that will be created and maintained and that leads to food security,” said Martin-Lake.

Just last year the program got nearly 100,000 pounds of produce into North Alabama school districts. 

“One of the middle schoolers said, ‘I didn’t even know that strawberries came from a plant in the ground,'” Martin-Lake said.

The CDC reports Alabama has the fifth highest rate of obesity, which is known to be factor in serious diseases and leads to pressure on the health care system. 

“Not everyone is able to go to the farmer’s market, but everyone goes to the grocery store,” said FFC Co-manager Natalie Bishnoi. “So if we have fresh, locally grown foods in grocery stores that’s also increasing local food access to everyone.”

For them, seeing how five years of tackling the economy, education, and health with food can be pretty sweet.

The FFC has programs that stretch all the way down to Mobile, but they’re always looking to expand. Let them know if you know of a place local produce can reach.

They also help farmers get important certifications so they can thrive.

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