Farmers and supermarket chain connectBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
September 25. 2017 11:50PM
HOLLIS — New Hampshire farmers are partnering with Hannaford Supermarkets to connect locally grown food with less fortunate residents.
“About one in 10 New Hampshire residents, and one in eight children, are at risk of going hungry,” said John Fifield, director of operations for Hannaford’s Manchester area, adding nearly 130,000 New Hampshire residents are not certain they will have access to the nutritious food they need.
On Monday, Hannaford launched a new Hannaford Helps initiative to improve the health of New Hampshire communities. It also donated a total of $80,000 to the New Hampshire Food Bank and the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Young Farmers organization.
“We know that we can eliminate hunger in New Hampshire if we work together. We also believe that locally grown food is an important part of that solution,” said Fifield.
The money, which is part of $407,000 in donations that Hannaford will be making, will be used to connect local farmers and the agricultural community to various hunger-relief organizations throughout New Hampshire and four other states, he said.
The funds were collected earlier this year when Hannaford encouraged customers to purchase healthy food — items that received at least one star through the Guiding Stars nutrition program. For every item purchased, Hannaford promised to make a financial donation toward hunger relief.
Brookdale Fruit Farm in Hollis is one New Hampshire farm taking part in the new program.
“We are proud to say that Brookdale supplies more than two dozen local Hannaford stores with great products,” said Iris Ayotte, director of operations for Hannaford in the Nashua area.
Ayotte said she is also grateful to Brookdale Fruit Farm for donating several pallets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, including apples and corn, to food-insecure residents across the state.
“Farms produce fresh, nutritious food, exactly what hungry people need, and help keep the local economy strong,” Julie Libby, vice-president of fresh category management, merchandising and pricing for Hannaford, said in a statement.
The Young Farmers group will use the monetary donation to purchase refrigerated trucks that will allow the organization to collect additional donations for the New Hampshire Food Bank.
Organizers said area farmers often do want to donate their produce, but simply don’t have the time or resources to contribute.
This new initiative eliminates that problem by providing a way to get the food directly from the farm to soup kitchens and food banks.
“Lots of them want to give back,” said Amy Matarozzo, chair of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Young Farmers Committee. “This allows us to reach more farms.”