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PFM is Feeding Community Via Local Farms

Three years ago, we saw lines of cars zig-zagging around parking lots, wrapped behind churches, and idling for blocks, all waiting for one thing: free food. The days of these long lines of vehicles dominating the news may be over, but that does not mean the need for emergency food has subsided. In fact, people facing hunger nationally report needing an average of $20 more per week to meet their food needs (Hake, M., Engelhard, E., & Dewey, A. (2023)). Here, in Northern Arizona, it is no different. Ben Burke, Executive Director of Manzanita Outreach confirms this. “At the onset of COVID we quadrupled output in terms of pounds distributed and people served (May-June 2020). Things were crazy. Right now [Summer 2023] our output is 50% higher in terms of pounds of food and people served.”

In 2020, conventional emergency food solutions were, by and large, affected by the same supply chain issues and rationing as grocery stores. Now, there are new solutions that utilize local farmers. Purchase Local AZ is a federally funded program that works to purchase local food from small-scale producers and distribute that fresh, nutritious food to underserved, rural communities. This new funding from the United States Department of Agriculture is intended to support local initiatives combating food insecurity while paying farmers fair market value for their products. Prescott Farmers Market has been doing the work of connecting communities with local food for the past 26 years, and since March 2020, our Feed Your Neighbors (FYN) program has filled the gaps in emergency food systems by purchasing local produce from local farms.

With charitable donations and funding like Purchase Local AZ, Prescott Farmers Market purchases fresh produce from farmers in Yavapai County. We then partner with area agencies to identify people in need and provide food assistance, be it delivering a box of vibrant vegetables, providing shopping assistance at the market utilizing Feed Your Neighbors food vouchers, or simply ensuring our community food pantries are supplied with fresh, local options. The FYN program is a win-win because it provides fresh food to those who are struggling to put food on the table while supporting small family farms and, in turn, boosting the local economy.

Supporting family farms is critical in ensuring a healthy food supply chain now and in the future.

Kemper Burt of Growing Vertical Urban Farm in Prescott Valley is a grower of microgreens typically included in FYN boxes. “The FYN program is an indispensable lifeline that exemplifies the true essence of community support. This vital importance cannot be overstated. It addresses not only the immediate need for nutrition, but also fosters a sense of unity and solidarity within the community. It reinforces the idea that we are a network of individuals, each responsible for the well-being of our neighbors. By participating in this program, we actively cultivate an environment where empathy flourishes, bonds are strengthened, and the resilience of the community as a whole is enhanced.”

PFM and our wide network of farmers, ranchers, and food producers, is well situated to advance a post-pandemic solution to hunger and food access. On average, each FYN box contains $50 worth of local vegetables and fruit and serves as a lifeline to many. Last year alone, nearly $50,000 worth of produce was purchased from 19 local growers through FYN! Requests for food assistance continue to increase weekly and with the assistance of larger funding like that of Purchase Local AZ, PFM will be able to sustain the FYN program for the next year. We will continue breaking stigmas and shame surrounding food insecurity and provide access to a fundamental need – fresh food – in a way that’s inclusive, uplifting, dignified and empowering. Sustaining the FYN program alongside the demand for more food, affords local growers the opportunities to expand their business and have both increased and guaranteed sales. FYN keeps money local, gets fresh local food to folks, and helps support our local agriculture and small family businesses.

When we come together as a community and utilize all of the assets and resources available to us, we are stronger and more resilient. Instead of addressing chronic problems with the same old response, why not collectively imagine differently and be better prepared for the future?

For more information about the Feed Your Neighbors program or to make a charitable tax credit donation, volunteer to pack a vegetable box, or connect communities in need with local food, contact


Phone: 928-713-1227

Mailing address:
PO Box 1853
Prescott, AZ 86302