Fareground, Inc., is a women-run, food justice and anti-hunger organization, located in Beacon, N.Y., whose goal is to support a safety net of food security for everyone. Kara Dean-Assael is the co-founder, and Karen George is the President of the Board. These good-hearted and generous women, along with their dedicated volunteers, have been serving the community since 2012. It all started when Kara opened a pop-up community café, with a “Pay-what-you-can” model, which offered hearty meals at a local coffee shop and Beacon Recreation Center. While looking for a more permanent home for the café, the focus of the organization shifted to meet the needs of the community, and the rest is history in the making.
Fareground has been helping to bridge the gap by providing solutions for food insecurity, which includes access to nutritious and affordable food for multiple communities in the Hudson Valley. Their goal is to increase that access to food to those who need it, which is why they go directly to individuals and families by providing distribution services. They have been busy building relationships with numerous community managers at housing developments, and now distribute meals to residents once a month at each location. While in the thick of the pandemic, they were packing 900 to-go dinner bags a week to be distributed at the local schools and various low-income housing communities.
Hunger has been an issue for decades, but once COVID started to spread, food insecurities became even more apparent. Operating as first responders since March of 2020, the organization was receiving calls making them aware of families who haven’t eaten in days. They immediately started packing emergency boxes and included more and more families on the schedule for distribution. Fareground has been there for anybody and everybody throughout the pandemic, regardless of income or status. They have made themselves available to help anyone who is hungry, no matter the circumstances.
Distribution is made possible by the generosity of contributions from local farms, box stores, and food rescue organizations. Some of them include Common Ground Farm, Field & Larder, Davoren Farm, Second Chance Foods, Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Shop Rite, Market Fresh, Beacon Natural, Key Food, and Hannaford. In addition to the usual boxed and canned goods, these farms and businesses provide vitamin-rich nourishment such as greens, potatoes, and peppers that are extremely beneficial to their recipients, especially during peak seasons.
As the saying goes, “It takes a village.” There are even more businesses that get involved in helping Fareground to expand their reach. The Related Foundation provided a grant that has made it possible for them to purchase food outright, which is then distributed to Tompkins Terrace in Beacon every Friday, and various housing communities on Saturdays. LNJ Tech Services of Beacon, who provide events with lighting and sound, donated their space, truck crews, and resources to make it possible for Fareground to distribute on a larger scale.
Before the pandemic, Fareground was hyperfocused on building tiny food pantries throughout the area. The pantries have been established throughout Beacon, Newburgh and Wappingers Falls. These dry storage cabinets resemble little free libraries, and are built by volunteers, owned by the community, and made possible by collaboration. Each tiny food pantry location has an appointed manager and requires weekly replenishment. Feel free to “take what you need and leave what you can,” at any of the TFP locations listed.
Anyone can also drop off food and feminine hygiene donations to the collection bins located at Key Food or Beacon Natural Market in Beacon. Most of the TFP’s are outdoors and accessible 24/7, with the exception of the Beacon Library, which is located indoors. Binnacle Books has a community fridge made possible by a collaboration with Beacon 4 Black Lives and Binnacle Books.
They even have an Amazon Wish List. Anything purchased from this list is delivered directly to Fareground, located at 12 Hanna Lane in Beacon, NY.
Fareground’s goal for 2021 is to find a permanent home to lay down roots, where they can continue to grow their distributions and also welcome the public. Serving their community, while collaborating with local organizations, will help to further their mission to increase access to food for all. They plan to support the practice of providing more friendly fridges and expand the tiny food pantries while continuing to destigmatize hunger.
Life’s challenges can have an impact on anyone financially at any given time, no matter what the circumstances. Fareground is a great example of how compassion for each other’s needs and community organization can help us thrive together when we find ourselves surrounded by uncertainty. To get involved, volunteer, or make a donation, please visit: www.fareground.org
Fareground, Inc. is Kara Dean-Assael, Karen George, Maggie Dickinson, Jennifer Rutledge, Jennifer Clair and Jean Brennan
By Lauren Simonetti, Marketing and Content Coordinator, iHeart Hudson Valley