From the farm: ‘NH Feeding NH’ is a win-win in the Granite State

The Friendly Kitchen in Concord purchased roasts from Miles Smith Farm in 2023 as part of the “NH Feeding NH” program.

The Friendly Kitchen in Concord purchased roasts from Miles Smith Farm in 2023 as part of the “NH Feeding NH” program. Courtesy

Published: 03-30-2024 10:00 AM

A little-known but excellent program that brings food to those in need and supports local farmers is called “NH Feeding NH.” In 2022, Catholic Charities’ N.H. Food Bank joined forces with the N.H. Farm Bureau, the N.H. Food Alliance, and the Northeast Organic Farming Association of N.H. and organized “NH Feeding NH,” a statewide initiative that provides agencies with funds to purchase local produce, meat, and dairy products.

I know about this program because the First Baptist Church in Belmont, Isaiah 61 Cafe in Belmont, Epsom Food Pantry, and the Friendly Kitchen used these funds to buy meat from Miles Smith Farm.

Here’s how it works: The N.H. Food Bank received funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Combined with grants from other organizations in the state, those funds were divided among eligible N.H. agencies, which were instructed to use the funds to buy food from farms in their area.

Farmers often have an abundance of produce and meat. For instance, our steaks sell very well, but steaks are only a small portion of a beef critter. We also have extra pot roasts, brisket, and ground beef. Ground beef is easy to cook, but pot roasts are perceived as being more complex. Food pantries have skilled chefs like Jim Gerraughty at the Friendly Kitchen, who are not daunted by a 10-pound chuck roast. We also donate extra products to food pantries that buy from us.

N.H. farmers who raise vegetables, fruit, and dairy also have products they’d like to sell. Imagine more than 300 agencies across New Hampshire, including food pantries, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, children’s programs, and senior centers, buying locally raised food from hard-working N.H. farmers.

“This critical funding enables us to grow our NH Feeding NH program to not only support more local farmers but also help nourish communities in need, reduce food waste, and replenish the local economy,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of the N.H. Food Bank. “We are grateful to the USDA and NHDAMF (state Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food) for this grant, which will be instrumental in our ongoing mission to eliminate food insecurity in New Hampshire.”

Since the program’s start, 323 agencies have received local food, and over $766,000 has gone to 254 farmers in New Hampshire.

“When I first read the NH feeding NH offer, I instantly replied yes,” said George Rau, the Community Food Center director in Tamworth. “I have listened to our area small farmers desperately needing the financial support to keep doing what they love: growing fresh and wholesome vegetables for their surrounding community. Helping them financially and giving our clients great fresh vegetables is a win-win for our entire community.”

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The N.H. Food Bank and the agencies in this fantastic program deserve kudos. Let’s continue to support N.H. farmers feeding those in need in the Granite State.

Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm where she raises and sells beef, pork, eggs, and other local products. She can be reached at Carole also coaches humans, helping them achieve the impossible a little at a time.