Eat Well, Give Well farm market buying program called a success

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Shelly Birkelo
Sunday, October 27, 2013

JANESVILLE—Skelly's Farm Market was getting requests from nonprofits to register for its Eat Well, Give Well program right up until the end of the farmers market season.

“A church in Beloit wanted 50 cards Sept. 20, but with only two weeks left (in the program's first season) we got back to them, apologized, and told them we thought it was best to get signed up right away next year,” said program coordinator Jen Skelly.

Eat Well, Give Well was introduced to the community this past spring to encourage buying fresh produce from Skelly's South Hayner Road store, farmers market or roadside stands. In doing so, Skelly's donated 10 percent of each purchase to a charity chosen by the customer.

Participants could register at eatwellgivewell.com and select a nonprofit organization to support. Individuals and businesses could sign up. If a favorite nonprofit was not listed, Skelly's contacted the organization and asked them to participate.

People who signed up received reward cards to show when they bought produce at any Skelly's Farm Market location. Each month, Skelly's added up each participant's purchases and issued donations to the chosen nonprofit.

Top earners through Eat Well, Give Well were St. Paul's Lutheran Church School and Day Care, followed by Mercy Health System's House of Mercy, HealthNet of Rock County, Friends of Noah and St. William Knights of Columbus.

The plan for the program was to conclude the season at the end of September when Skelly's pulls its stands from local farmers markets and roadsides. The plan worked out.

Over the winter the program will be tweaked a bit. It will kick off again in 2014 in conjunction with the strawberry season. As it did this year, it will end again in September, Skelly said.

“We definitely will continue the program next year,” she said.

Skelly summed up the first season of the program as “a really big success.”

“Some people stopped (at Skelly's Farm Market) every other day. Having that (Eat Well, Give Well) card and wanting to give money to their organization was motivation to stop (by our market). So the program did what we wanted it to do,” she said.

More than 250 participants and 35 of the 45 nonprofits that signed up earned dollars, Skelly said.

“Some (nonprofits) signed up, but none of their fans made purchases with their participant cards. So that was a little disappointing,” she said.

Skelly wouldn't release the total dollars raised for these three-dozen nonprofits but said some received as little as a couple dollars while others received more than $50.

“That doesn't seem like a whole lot, but with 30-plus nonprofits and 250-some people 10 percent of each of those purchases provided a lot of people support,'' she said.

Skelly's has a tradition of giving back and encouraging healthy eating while supporting the community.

Eat Well, Give Well did that.

“It's everyone helping everyone else,” Skelly said.

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