Whether you choose to measure by the bushel or peck, there’s no denying that a recent $125,000 grant awarded to local grocer Bushel & Peck will soon allow the organization to offer a lot more local, healthy food to the community.
“Bushel & Peck was launched in 2017 to provide better access to healthy foods for all people in Jefferson County, to boost our farm and food economy, and to drive downtown revitalization in historic Charles Town,” explained Todd Coyle, Chief Operating Officer of Bushel & Peck and Charles Town City Councilmember. “With this grant award, Bushel & Peck will expand its healthy food offerings to the community, conduct outreach to new customers and families who are struggling with hunger and poor nutrition, and explore the creation of a more robust Food Hub that can make farm-fresh foods a bigger part of our local lives in Jefferson County.”
The grant was awarded as part of America’s Healthy Food Financing Initiative’s (HFFI) Targeted Small Grants Program, funded by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The HFFI program is administered by Reinvestment Fund, as a public-private partnership aiming to provide capacity building and financing resources to stimulate food business development at scale and build a more equitable food system that supports the health and economic vibrancy of all Americans. “The pandemic has underscored the necessity of having a robust and just food system, where all Americans, regardless of where they live or how much they earn, can easily get nutritious, affordable food,” said Don Hinkle-Brown, President & CEO of Reinvestment Fund. “HFFI resources are a critical part of the solution set to strengthen local economies, grow entrepreneurship and quality jobs, and further develop essential and sustainable infrastructure, particularly in underinvested rural and urban communities.”
Bushel & Peck opened in 2017 and quickly attracted a base of regular customers who would stop in to browse the small shop throughout the week. The COVID-19 pandemic was a significant challenge, and the grocery adapted by adding online and phone ordering options as well as curbside pickup. Seeing the community needs up close and amplified by the pandemic, Coyle sees this grant as an opportunity to upgrade operations inside the store by adding new coolers and other equipment to expand the food offerings and also updating the computer system to better handle inventory management and online sales.
The grant also creates an opportunity to expand the reach of the “Food Hub” operation throughout Jefferson County. Coyle envisions that part of this expansion will take the form of a community marketing campaign to attract more customers to this healthy, farm-to-market center – with a focus on SNAP recipients, minority families, the elderly, and other vulnerable local citizens and families who need better access to healthy foods. He also has plans to expand the physical footprint of Bushel & Peck into vacant and under-utilized downtown buildings and lots to create a true “Food Hub” with indoor food outlets, outdoor food markets, connections to community gardens, and a bulk food distribution center that can serve local school and health centers.
Todd Coyle, who is also a member of the City Council, and Charles Town City Manager Daryl Hennessy worked together on the grant application, and both noted the many individuals and organizations who supported this effort. Bushel & Peck appreciates the key community partners who supported this effort, including the GAP Coalition, the Charles Town Farmers Market, Charles Town Now, WV Delegate Sammi Brown, the USDA Jefferson Extension Office at West Virginia University, WVU Medicine’s Eastern Area Health Education Center, the WV Farmers Market Association, the NAACP of Jefferson County, the Jefferson County Schools Superintendent, the Jefferson County Development Authority, Jefferson County Community Ministries, the Mayor of the City of Ranson, Ranson Old Town Community Gardens, and a number of local farms including South Mountain Microfarm, Red Hawk Rise Organics, Roxley Farms, Duchess Honey, Buck Wild Bison, and McAteer Farms.
Bushel & Peck is located at 100 W Washington St in Charlestown. Visit them online on Facebook.By Staff Contributor