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Idea Fair

Supporting Local Farms through Grocery Program

How has this idea enhanced your club's operation, etc.?

When the pandemic forced a “Stay at Home” order in North Carolina, our club, our membership, and our local partners faced an abundance of challenges. Our members were unable to join us in the dining room and wary to shop at the grocery store, and the elimination of dining due to state-wide orders left local farms with excess product on and very little revenue to keep their farms functioning. To provide a service to our members, as well as support these farms, we launched an initiative to make local ingredients from 25 different farms available directly to our membership through an online ordering system with the help of Freshlist Charlotte.

Our motto has always been “source locally, cook seasonally, make it from scratch”, but this volume of local ingredients coming through our club was unparalleled in our history. Cars lined up fifteen-deep on Saturday mornings to meet their pickup window, moving an astounding $20,000 in product per week directly from farm to members.

Members of the Food and Beverage team took orders for beverages and grilled items while members sat in their cars waiting for their orders to be placed in their cars, providing an additional service as well as welcomed revenue during an otherwise slow period.

Since restrictions have lessened, our partnership with Freshlist and local farms has grown and evolved: Members now place orders online, and extraordinary local ingredients are delivered directly to their doors on a weekly basis. Our culinary team now uses ingredients from local farms for our weekly in-house “Featured Item” competition, and winners receive a gift card to shop for fresh ingredients for their families.

We are thankful for the challenges that 2020 presented us; our local ties are stronger than ever, we have new and exciting benefits for our membership to enjoy, and our culinary team now has an even broader palette for their creative endeavors.

How was this idea implemented, and what have been the club members' reactions?

The Club partnered with Freshlist, a local company that was able to supply various items from over 25 different local farms, to provide a weekly grocery service to our membership. Items offered included fresh breads, eggs, an abundance of different fruits, vegetables, and microgreens, and more.

This service allowed our membership to get incredibly fresh product without leaving their cars. They did not need to go to the near-empty grocery stores searching for product and received fresh products that were transitioned straight from the farms to the consumer. Members were grateful for the convenience of the program, while also thrilled with the quality of product received. This program was so popular that our members are still supporting the service even after the dining rooms have reopened. Now, members can order online and receive the products directly to their doors.

About the author

Erin Schlegel

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