Summer in Fauquier County has always been a challenge for families who are food-insecure. With COVID-19, this need became even more urgent. The Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health program, better known as FRESH, seeks to meet this need in the community. Their goal is to ensure that no child goes hungry in Fauquier County.
However, this enormous task could not be accomplished by FRESH alone. With the help of Fauquier County Public School staff volunteers, Fauquier FISH, the Fauquier Education Farm, and the Airlie Berkshire Farm, FRESH has been able to supply fresh produce and other food to families who are in need.
FRESH has been working tirelessly with both local and national organizations to help address the issues of food insecurity, nutrition education, and promoting healthy living among students in the county. This summer, FRESH took on three interns: Madison Carter and John Bellucci, both from the PATH Foundation, and Emma Dulin from No Kid Hungry, a national campaign focused on ending childhood hunger in America. These interns have added to FRESH’s initiatives and are out in the community every week to ensure food is available to those who need it most.
FRESH’s three-step distribution process is what makes this all possible.
First, volunteers harvest fresh produce from the Fauquier Education Farm along with Carter and Bellucci. (The Education Farm is a ten-acre plot of land in which all yielded produce is donated to various organizations in the community, including FRESH.)
After the food is harvested, it is transported to FRESH’s preparation site at Warrenton Middle School, where volunteers - along with Dulin - package, clean, and prepare unique recipes that pair with that day’s fresh produce. In addition to the fresh produce, Fauquier FISH provides a bag of non-perishable food items called a “Power Pack”. Lastly, the prepared produce and “Power Packs” are distributed throughout the county via delivery and pick-up sites, such as public-school parking lots.
FRESH’s food distribution and education efforts have brought awareness to the benefits of preparing and consuming fresh foods, creating an overall healthier and more engaged community.
-John Bellucci, Emma Dulin, Madison Carter and Lauren Shutt
College interns, Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health