Matt Coyle, Local Food Systems Coordinator
The Piedmont Environmental Council
firstname.lastname@example.org; 540-347-2334, x7026
FAUQUIER COUNTY, VA. (Nov. 18, 2020) – Ovoka Farm owner Karen Way, of Paris, is donating 10,000 pounds of locally-raised ground beef and ground pork toward The Piedmont Environmental Council’s Farm to Food Bank initiative, which is supporting food banks throughout the northern Piedmont, according to PEC Local Food Systems Coordinator Matt Coyle.
On Sunday, Nov. 22, Way and her Ovoka Farm crew will deliver 1,000 pounds of ground beef and 600 pounds of ground pork to Fauquier FISH, where it will be split and further distributed to Fauquier Community Food Bank, Community Touch in Bealeton, Rappahannock Food Pantry and Culpeper Food Closet. At Fauquier FISH, Ovoka will be joined by students in the Wakefield School’s Interact Club, who will help unload beef and pack Thanksgiving bags. Delivery is expected to take place at 11:30 a.m.
“Wakefield School has always been committed to community service, from Marshall, Virginia to Haiti, as a main tenet of its educational philosophy. The Interact Club, new this year and sponsored by Gainesville-Haymarket Rotary Club, is focusing on providing sustainable hunger relief to local families, and the club’s mission is aligned with PEC’s Farm to Food Bank program,” said Way, who serves on the board of Wakefield School and whose children attend Wakefield School. “Ovoka Farm is honored to be a partner farm in support of this relationship of our local leaders working side by side with our future leaders to eradicate hunger here in our own backyard.”
This will be Ovoka’s second delivery. On November 11, Ovoka delivered almost 3,000 pounds of ground beef and 1,000 pounds of ground pork to Loudoun Hunger Relief, where it was split up between Seven Loaves Services in Middleburg, Dulles South Food Pantry in Sterling, Tree of LIfe Ministries in Purcellville, and Christ Church Cares Food Bank in Clarke County. “We have already received calls and emails from the food banks from the first delivery expressing their gratitude for such a generous delivery ahead of the holidays,” Coyle said.
Ovoka Farm raises Angus/Wagyu cattle and was looking for a way to support community efforts. “Ovoka’s core values focus on sustainable farming practices and extend to ensuring that we as an organization are an active community participant. The obvious area where we can help is providing food to feed the hungry,” Way said.
She learned about PEC’s Farm to Food Bank program from her friend (and PEC board co-chair) Jean Perin. “Along with each Ovoka harvest, we are proud to provide ongoing local meat donations through PEC’s work, and to partner with Wakefield School and PEC in creating a predictable, continuous supply of Ovoka Heritage Wagyu beef to help keep the local food banks shelves stocked,” said Way.
“Ovoka’s 100 percent donation has quadrupled our beef donations to local food banks and is allowing us to keep this important program running, at least through the end of the calendar year,” said Coyle. “The pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our national supply chain and subsequently increased the hardship on food insecure families and demand on local food banks. PEC is proud to fight local hunger while also amplifying the value of local, sustainable agriculture by connecting farmers within the Virginia Piedmont with the many local food banks on which so many food insecure people rely for their family’s nutritional needs,” he said.
PEC’s Farm to Food Pantry initiative began in May, when the organization learned of the Covid-19 pandemic’s impacts on both local dairy farmers and local food banks. Since then, the organization has raised philanthropic support, and partnered with the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association on packaging and delivery, to provide more than 20,000 gallons of locally-produced milk to 19 food pantries in the northern Piedmont. In July, PEC expanded the initiative, partnering first with Fauquier’s Lakota Ranch and then with Culpeper’s Locus Dale Cattle Company, to provide about 1,300 pound of ground beef to local food banks. Ovoka Farm’s donation is expected to carry the program through the calendar year.
The Farm to Food Bank program has been made possible by philanthropic support from many private donors and organizations, including the American Farmland Trust, PATH Foundation, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and Northern Piedmont Community Foundation, Seven Hills Food Company and 4P Foods.