Floyd County’s creative use of CARES Act money kept a community well-fed, in business

Floyd Co. spent $200K shopping from local farmers and vendors and donated the food to local food pantries

FLOYD COUNTY, Va. – We have all had to come together to get through the pandemic, and in many instances come up with creative ways to still make daily life work. The way Floyd County used it’s CARES Act Funds truly showcases that community spirit. During tough economic times, they are keeping the community fed and in business.

As the pandemic has stretched on, so have the lines of people waiting at Plenty! Farm Food Bank in Floyd County. Kerry Ackerson, Executive Director of Plenty! says it’s been hard to keep up with demand.

“When COVID hit, we started seeing a great increase in people coming. Over the course of the past year it’s been as high as over a 20% increase,” Ackerson said. “We are seeing 280 families a month. So of course meeting that demand has been a challenge, but the other challenge that we have had has been food shortages.”

But ironically, local farmers and vendors had food they needed to sell. Melissa Branks, the manager of the Floyd Farmers Market, said COVID-19 had a huge impact on the ability of local farmers and vendors to sell their products.

“It was a hard market season. We started off the market season not even knowing whether or not we would be able to be open,” said Branks.

The supply was there, and so was the demand, but with crowd limitations, there was nowhere to meet in the middle. That’s where the county came in. Floyd County Supervisor Linda DeVito Kuchenbuch said it was the perfect way to spend county CARES Act money before the deadline.

“It was a no-brainer. We gave $200,000 to buy food,” DeVito Kuchenbuch said.

The county spent the money shopping from Floyd’s small businesses for residents in need.

“I like to call it a win, win, win, win, win, win, win, because it had a domino effect,” DeVito Kuchenbuch said.

Enormous orders of meat, food and produce were made at small businesses.

“Our baker baked 800 loaves of bread and 700 scones,” Branks said. She said it provided important seed money for small businesses to use for 2021.

A truckload of non-perishables was purchased from a local supermarket, filling the shelves of eight Floyd food pantries. The money was even used to purchase and install more storage for the future. The county purchased two industrial-sized coolers which were installed at Plenty!. The coolers will be shared by multiple pantries.

“It was wonderful. People were excited. The local farmers and producers, they were excited because it was a game-changer for their year of course. They are able to provide food and help others but also frankly they’re getting help themselves. So, it was a very joyful time,” Ackerson said.

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