Fayetteville Roots Fest donates over 3,400 pounds of food to schools and charity

(From left) Morgan Stout of Fayetteville Public Schools; Mike Rush and Denise Garner of Feed Fayetteville; Jerrmy Gawthrop of Fayetteville Roots Festival; Orien Bedwell of Crystal Lake Farms; and Bryan and Bernice Hembree of Fayetteville Roots Festival stand beside 60 cases of chicken donated to Fayetteville Public Schools last week.

Staff photo

The Fayetteville Roots Festival did more than just throw one heck of a party back in August.

The festival, which featured performances by over 30 artists including country-tinged songwriter Lucinda Williams, Americana band The Wood Brothers, and songwriting powerhouses Darrel Scott and Tim O’Brien and others, helped donate over 3,400 pounds of chicken to the local community.

Through a relationship with Decatur-based Crystal Lakes Farms, festival organizers last week delivered 2,500 pounds of pasture-raised chicken to the Fayetteville School District for use in their Seeds to Student farm to table program, and another 900 pounds to Feed Fayetteville to be distributed to local community meals.

Crystal Lake Farms provided the chicken as part of their sponsorship of the event, some that went to feed festival attendees. The company owners asked that the rest be donated to benefit the community.

A truck from Crystal Lake Farms drops off a donation at Feed Fayetteville.

Courtesy photo

Orien Bedwell, VP of Sales and Marketing with Crystal Lake Farms, said the partnership with Fayetteville Roots Festival was a perfect fit.

“The festival is so focused on local food, and local music,” Bedwell said. “As a local supplier, we thought it made perfect sense to partner with them.”

School district representative Morgan Stout, who has been working with the district’s Seed to Student program for about a year, said the chicken will help with the program’s mission to increase the amount of quality, locally raised foods served in the school district.

Since the district’s farm-to-school program began as an experiment at select schools in 2005, Stout said, donations like the one from Crystal Lake Farms and a sizable USDA implementation grant the district received recently have helped to expand the program to the entire district.

“We’ve been trying to make this program as district wide as possible,” Stout said. “This chicken will be incorporated into the regular menu at all 14 of our schools.”

Denise Garner, founder of local charity Feed Fayetteville, said some of the food was delivered to Dwelling Place Church to feed children in after-school programs all over Fayetteville. The rest was donated to the community meals programs held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, Central United Methodist Church and The Salvation Army, she said.

“We are so grateful for the Fayetteville community partners that worked to make this possible,” Garner said. “This is huge for these local food pantries and community meals.”

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit onlyinark.com.