For Immediate Release
Matt Coyle, Local Food Systems Coordinator
The Piedmont Environmental Council
email@example.com; 540-347-2334, x7026
FAUQUIER & CULPEPER, VA. (Sept 24, 2020) – In partnership with American Farmland Trust, Seven Hills Food Co, and 4P Foods, The Piedmont Environmental Council is providing 800 pounds of beef to four food banks in Fauquier, Orange, Madison and Culpeper counties. PEC has raised philanthropic support, including a $2,500 gift from American Farmland Trust, to help source the beef from Culpeper’s Locust Dale Cattle Company, which is a pilot producer in AFT’s Sustainable Grazing Project. The beef is being processed by Seven Hills Food Co. and will be delivered by 4P Foods to Love Outreach Food Pantry in Orange and Madison Emergency Services Agency on Friday, and Fauquier Community Food Bank and Culpeper Food Closet next Tuesday.
This is the second beef delivery in PEC’s Farm to Food Bank Initiative that began in May, when the nonprofit organization collaborated with local dairy farmers and the Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association to get milk to local food pantries at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic’s food impacts. In July, PEC expanded the dairy initiative to include beef, partnering with Lakota Ranch to provide about 500 pounds of ground beef to Fauquier Community Food Bank. The Farm to Food Bank program has been made possible by philanthropic support from many private donors and organizations, including American Farmland Trust, as well as the PATH Foundation, which supported the launch of the dairy initiative.
“The pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities in our national supply chain by increasing demand for local farmers and food, animal processors, and food pantries. PEC is proud to fight local hunger while also amplifying the value of local 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,” said Matt Coyle, PEC’s local food systems coordinator.
“American Farmland Trusts and its Sustainable Grazing Project is excited to assist with the efforts of the Farm to Food Bank program,” Jacob Gilley, American Farmland Trust’s mid-Atlantic sustainable grazing coordinator. “Sourcing beef from local producers who are adopting sustainable and regenerative practices are critical, as it incentivizes a holistic approach to giving consumers a safe, healthy and quality eating experience while helping local producers improve conservation and profitability,” Gilley said.
In the short term, PEC hopes its partnership with American Farmland Trust in the Farm to Food Bank Initiative will support local farmers and help alleviate immediate animal protein needs in the community,, according to Coyle. Beyond that, the organization sees need and benefit in a centrally-located processing facility that could act as a processing, dry-aging, storing and packaging facility for local animal farmers,and provide marketing and distribution under a regional brand. Earlier this summer, PEC, along with lead partner American Farmland Trust, applied for a USDA Local Food Promotion Grant to study the feasibility of such a facility here in the PIedmont.
“A local plant would reduce costs for farmers who now have to ship animals across the state and even across state lines for processing, create an efficient mechanism for a multitude of local farmers to dry age and store processed meat, and it would make our local communities less dependent on a national food supply chain that can’t easily and quickly adapt to changing demands and conditions, like a pandemic,” Coyle said.
Since 1972, The Piedmont Environmental Council has proudly promoted and protected the natural resources, rural economy, history and beauty of the Virginia Piedmont. PEC empowers residents to protect what makes the Piedmont a wonderful place, and works with citizens to conserve land, improve air and water quality and build thriving communities. PEC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and accredited land trust. Learn more at www.pecva.org