In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, area families have been faced with many challenges including food insecurity. The crisis has also taken a toll on farmers within the community as they have been unable to sell their produce.

On Wednesday, August 5, the Rotary Clubs of South Hall and Braselton and Rotary District 6910 decided to take matters into their own hands by partnering with the Farmers to Families Food Box Project.

Rotarians united at Road Atlanta to provide fresh produce from Georgia farmers directly to the organizations helping families struggling with food insecurity. The clubs have partnered with several community organizations that work directly with the most needing families in the Braselton, Oakwood and Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Jefferson and Winder communities.

“In the face of uncertainty with COVID-19, there are many families who are suddenly faced with not knowing where their next meal will come from and depend on these types of opportunities. It has placed enormous strain on the facilities that were already serving so many prior to the crisis,” said Amanda Groover, president of South Hall Rotary.

“While doing our best to follow social-distancing and health guidelines, we wanted to be able to directly impact the families in our community that are struggling the most with food insecurity. As Rotary leaders in our community, we had the unique opportunity to make a significant impact in a very short amount of time through our Rotary District to secure a 52’ trailer full of food at a significant discount and then pass it along to the numerous organizations that we work with regularly to tackle the large food insecurity issue in our area,” said Groover.

On Wednesday, volunteers distributed 1,680 cases of fresh produce to over 10 organizations.

“The boxes contained a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, not just shelf stable options to the families we are serving,” said Groover.

“The estimated value of a full trailer load of 26 pallets, each of which have 70 boxes cost $25,000,” said Doug Bolton, Rotary 6910 district service chair.

Produce was provided free of charge to the Georgia Mountain Food Bank, iServe Ministries, Family Promise of Hall County, Bridge the City, North Gwinnett Co-op, Georgia Piedmont YMCA, Hoschton Food Bank, Red Wine Methodist Food Bank, Celebration Church, The Way Up and the UNG Food Pantry during the event.

“We could not have pulled this event off in less than three weeks without the help of partnering with the Braselton Rotary and in-kind donations from Michelin Speedway Road Atlanta and North Georgia Rentals,” stated Groover.

Rotary volunteers are currently scheduled to continue the distribution of these food boxes through the month of August, however some members believe the time will be extended for another six weeks into October as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

The team will continue to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. at the farmers market in southwest Atlanta every week.

“While contents of the boxes may slightly change due to availability, the boxes generally contain: two pounds of potatoes, two pounds of sweet potatoes, one pound of carrots, one pound of onions, one head of cabbage, one head of lettuce, four apples, four oranges and four lemons,” says Bolton.

“The Rotary Foundation, Rotary’s charitable arm, has to date awarded $20 million to support Rotary clubs worldwide in their immediate response to COVID-19 in their communities and to long term recovery efforts,” said Groover. “We hope the families who receive the food are as blessed as we are to do the footwork to make this possible.”

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