Food-City Week luncheon changed to county-wide effort to help food banks

by Bruce Hope
Posted 10/7/20

CLAY COUNTY – One percent of our population feeds the other 99%. Farm-City Week, a celebration used to recognize the link between rural and urban communities and the path of our food supplies from …

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Food-City Week luncheon changed to county-wide effort to help food banks

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – One percent of our population feeds the other 99%. Farm-City Week, a celebration used to recognize the link between rural and urban communities and the path of our food supplies from farm to table, seeks to ensure that more people are aware of this remarkable fact.

Farm-City week will, of course, be different this year than usual.

Typically, a significant part of the week is the Farm-City Luncheon. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated challenges of gatherings at this time, there won’t be a luncheon. Instead, the county’s extension office will organize a food bank drive.

Farm-City week has been taking place annually for the last 48 years.

“This year, due to COVID, we looked at our other options as far as what we can do the celebrate Farm-City week,” said Anne Sheldon Wallau, the county’s extension director. “We came up with the idea – especially due to the need for supporting our local food supply with our local food pantries – of doing a county-wide food drive to support four local food pantries and also purchasing locally sourced beef from Clay County producers to donate that beef to the food pantries that we’ve identified.”

Sheldon has been involved with Farm-City week for the past four years, as long as she has been in Clay County.

“This really is an opportunity for us to celebrate that partnership we have to have between our agricultural community and our urban community to help make sure that we have a food supply for all the citizens in Clay County and all the citizens in the state of Florida,” she said.

“The motivation for this event [Farm-City week] was really community and county unity,” said David King, a local attorney who is also involved with the annual celebration. “We live in two different worlds. The rural agricultural community was concerned about the encroachment of ‘civilization.’” This attitude led to the Farm-City luncheon’s eventual founding to bring the northern and southern (agricultural/rural) and northern (urban) ends of the county to get to know one another.

The focus of the week this year will be the food drive. Many people have been out of work since March and are experiencing food shortages in their homes. They need help.

“This is probably the worst food crisis that Clay County has faced since the Great Depression of the ’30s,” said King. According to King, donors who typically contribute cash for the luncheon [to buy the meals for attendees] have donated even more this year. This is money that will be used to buy meat divided, between the different food pantry locations. Those food pantries are equally spaced around the county. The complete list of food drop-off locations is not yet complete, but the food pantries have been identified.

They are: the Lake Area Ministries in Keystone Heights, Orange Park Clothes Closet and Food Pantry in Orange Park, the Middleburg Food Bridge and the Food Pantry of Green Cove Springs.

As part of Farm-City week, there will also be displays at each of the five Clay County Library branches that will target youth to educate them on where their food was collected.

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