Farmer's Table benefit helps provide locally grown produce to needy

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Farmer's Table benefit helps provide locally grown produce to needy

By JUSTIN PAPROCKI jpaprocki@islandpacket.com 843-706-8143
Published Wednesday, September 1, 2010   |  365 Words  |  lifestyle

Diners at The Farmer's Table benefit will be treated to a meal of tomato and shrimp pie, fried quail and rice pudding -- all made with fresh, local ingredients. In exchange, those in need will be able to create a meal out of fresh produce, as well.
The Farmer's Table fundraiser will be held Sept. 10 at Habersham. The event brings together seven Beaufort chefs to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank's Growing Food Locally program, which facilitates buying produce from local farmers and distributing it to the needy.
The evening begins with bluegrass music and appetizers and then moves to a three-course meal, a collaboration of the chefs led by Plums executive chef Jim Spratling.
"What they do is bridge the gap between the have and have not," said Spratling, who's previously been involved in food bank benefits. "And the (Growing Food Locally) program can really help the movement of buying locally."
The goal of the dinner is to raise about $15,000 for the program, allowing it to provide more than 50,000 pounds of fresh produce.
The food bank serves the 10-county Lowcountry area, but its Growing Food Locally program mainly benefits the hungry in Beaufort and Hampton counties. Like its other programs, the food bank distributes produce to the needy via local organizations, such as St. Peter Catholic Church in Beaufort and the Agape Family Life Center in Hardeeville.
The program has provided more than 500,000 pounds of food from farmers in Beaufort and Hampton counties since 2005. It serves a dual purpose by giving food to people who need it, and also providing a guaranteed sale to local farmers.
Part of the intention of the program is to introduce the food bank users to the benefits of local produce. By forgoing a longer shipping time, local produce is often fresher than grocery-bought produce, said program manager Margaret Grant. Despite perceptions otherwise, it can also be cheaper, she said. A lot of those in need aren't even aware of the fact that locally grown produce is available nearby.
"If we give them access, we see them take advantage of it," Grant said. "Everyone should have access to quality food."