Farm Share, Inc has completed a successful pilot program in which it utilized the power of food to improve law enforcement’s relationships with the communities they serve as well as reduce crime in high crime communities. The innovative pilot program was a collaboration between Farm Share, the United States Attorney’s office and law enforcement agencies in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Duval and Alachua Counties.
In early 2015, Farm Share launched a Community Policing and Crime Prevention pilot program in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office. As part of the pilot program Farm Share focused on holding events in high crime “at risk” communities that combined the distribution of fresh fruits and vegetables and other non-persihable goods with other self-help social service programming. One year later the preliminary statistics show that communities in which Farm Share operated this program the crime rates, and more specifically violent crime rates, were reduced.
This outcome mirrors the results of national studies which show a direct correlation between crime, hunger and poverty. The concept being that if you can provide a community with guidance on how to break the cycle of poverty through job training and other programming, as well as provide the individuals with healthy and nutritious food, the level of crime will ultimately decrease as individuals are able to better provide for their basic needs on their own. In many instances the crimes are committed to meet a basic human need such as acquisition of food, clothing and/or shelter.
As part of its pilot program, Farm Share chose to partner with federal, state, county and local law enforcement agencies to help implement this programming. This choice has had a secondary benefit in addition to the reduction of community crime rates, namely the building of good will and the facilitation of positive relationships between low income and high crime neighborhoods with local law enforcement agencies. In light of the clashes between police officers and ethnic groups across the country Farm Share’s pilot program has proven the ability to help foster a better relationship between the police and law enforcement community and the neighborhoods they serve. Food is a powerful tool that can be used to fight hunger, crime and bring together people.
Farm Share’s pilot program has garnered growing support with the backing of several state, county and local elected officials in addition to law enforcement agencies and Police Unions.
“The implementation of the Farm Share (Community Policing and Crime Prevention) program provides hundreds of meals to individuals who are in need, without prejudice, and community members have expressed endless gratitude to the police department for their participation in this act of kindness,” stated, City of Miami Police Chief, Rodolfio Llanes.
“The mission of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is “to serve and protect in partnership with our community.” Our relationship with Farm Share has enabled us to live up to this mission,” said Duval County Sheriff, Mike Williams.
“Since 2015, Farm Share, has distributed over one hundred and eighty tons of free food items to residents attending our Farm Share Food Distribution pilot program,” said United States Attorney JD Smith.
The Miami Dade County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) recently presented Farm Share with a Certificate of Appreciation for its continued support and partnership with local law enforcement.
The presentation was made by PBA’s Vice President Pablo Lima who also provided Farm Share with a letter of appreciation from PBA President, John Rivera. “Over the last few years we have built a great partnership with your organization (Farm Share) through jointly held food distribution campaigns.
This partnership has allowed us to work together to fulfill the needs of our community and enhance the relationship between law enforcement and the residents we serve and protect,” stated PBA President, John Rivera.
Farm Share is now seeking to expand this pilot program statewide and is seeking federal, state, local and private funding to make this possible. “Farm Share is excited about the expansion of this pilot program as it allows Farm Share to accomplish its long standing mission of feeding more hungry Florida families, children, senior citizens and individuals throughout Florida while simultaneously helping to reduce crime and improve law enforcement/community relations statewide,” said Farm Share’s Chief Operating Officer, Stephen Shelley.
Farm Share works with Florida farmers to prevent food waste and distribute healthy food, including fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, juices and non-persihable food products to those who need it most. Last year, 40,497,190 pounds of food was made available to nearly 6.5 million households. With five (5) facilities located in Homestead, Florida City, Pompano, Jacksonville and Quincy, Farm Share serves communities from Key West to Pensacola.
For more information about Farm Share’s initiative, events, volunteering, or becoming a partner agency please visit www.farmshare.org