Farm Share for years helped feed individuals displaced by disasters, both natural and economic. Not, a Panhandle lawmaker wants state funding for the program.
State Rep. Jayer Williamson, a Pace Republican, filed an appropriations request (HB 2317) for Farm Share. He wants $5.4 million from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services budget for a program.
That’s on top of nearly $3 million budgeted this fiscal year.
“Farm Share has historically been reimbursed for costs incurred to acquire and distribute food,” Williamson wrote in a funding request. He noted Farm Share has historically provided for communities in need and then been repaid later.
“They do not receive the allocated legislative dollars unless the services are performed first. Therefore, penalties are not needed since if the deliverables are not met, no money is paid.”
Farm Share was established in 1991 “to fight poverty and alleviate hunger and malnutrition by recovering and distributing fresh and nutritious food to those who need it most, free of charge.”
That’s done by partnering with thousands of food banks, soup kitchens, nonprofits and churches in Florida, in addition to the state.
The program last year distributed more than 55 million pounds of food to more than 17.5 million households. That included 20 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Especially notable in the wake of Hurricane Michael hitting the Panhandle in 2018, Williamson notes Farm Share partners “is a critical first responder during natural disasters and is first on the scene to provide immediate food, water and other aide.”
Williamson also presents Farm Share as a way to reduce crime. Farm Share partners with law enforcement to provide food in poor areas and helps with community events for police.