Fresh Food Partnership shutting down soon

The Fresh Food Partnership that connected local farmers with people in need of fresh foods will be shutting down after the growing season.

A program that connected local farmers with people in need of fresh foods will be shutting down after the growing season.

The Fresh Food Partnership set out on a mission 12 years ago to support and buy produce from local farmers and then provide those fresh foods to people in need. The only program of its kind in Michigan when it started.

While some food pantries said they won't be hit too hard by the program shutting down others are sad to see it go.

"Really shocked as to why because it's really needed," said Cheryl Askwith a support coordinator at the Traverse House.

The Land Information Access Association recently made the decision to end the program after the growing season.

Askwith said the psychosocial rehab program got about 25% of their food donations for their pantry from the partnership

"We'll be involved with other programs and stuff but this one will be really, really missed," said Askwith.

The program is unique in that it supports local farmers by buying produce at fair market prices and then providing that fresh food to local food pantries and shelters.

Justin Strang a cook at Traverse House said he was disappointed to hear it was ending.

"Kind of bummed out because like Cheryl said everybody needs the resource, the food that comes in here it could be used for anything," said Strang.

The Father Fred Foundation in Traverse City said they won't feel the effects of the programs absence as much as smaller pantries like Traverse House.

The association made the decision to end the program because they have struggled financially to keep it going.

They rely solely on donations and with rising costs they can't keep up, but that's not the only reason it's shutting down.

"It's not a new idea anymore and a lot of groups in the community are doing this sort of work," said Matt Cowall the Communications and Development Director at LIAA.

Unlike some organizations Cowall said the food partnership paid farmers for produce and didn't rely solely on donations.

They reinvested $300,000 in the local farming economy since they started 12 years ago.

"Now in the moment that it's stepping away we think the community is in a great position to carry on very similar work," said Cowall.

"Folks are really sad about this program winding down, but the solace we take from it is that in the time it operated we really did what we set out to do," said Cowall.

The Fresh Food Partnership said the last pantry distribution will be October 11th.

Find a full list of the organizations affected by the partnership closing on the Fresh Food Partnership website.