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Oxford City Market sees growth in Harvest Angel Project

With only two droning, tunnel-shaped heaters to provide warmth in 30-degree weather, volunteers filled Harvest Angel Project bags of food for families in need at the Oxford Community Market on Tuesday.

It might have seemed like a basic food drive upon first glance, but behind the scenes Harvest Angel has become a quickly growing project for the community market.

Oxford City Market Director Betsy Chapman, along with about a dozen volunteers, filled around 75 bags of produce donated by local growers and companies, including Taylor Grocery, which increased from the 60 bags filled in 2017.

Along with the 75 bags, Chapman also said 100 pounds of sweet potatoes are being donated to the University of Mississippi’s Adopt-A-Basket Program.

Chapman said the idea behind the Harvest Angel Project started as a whim last year, and it quickly gained traction online. In all, Chapman raised $725, with a goal of $600, in about 24 hours.

“Last year around Thanksgiving, we just needed to do something special,” Chapman said.

This year, the project was picked up by Leadership Lafayette, who adopted Harvest Angel as their project, fundraised for it and enabled the market to do it.

To go along with the project, the community market also held its final potluck of the season with a Thanksgiving theme.

“We do have a mission to address food and security,” Chapman said. “We feel like this not only gets food to people who need it, it’s a good way to start a conversation about how many people in our community struggle to put healthy fresh food on their tables.”

Chapman’s sister, Becca, who helps her sister at bigger events such as the Harvest Angel Project, said this is her favorite event to help at, because she loves seeing the excitement on people’s faces as she hands out the food.

“We actually got to take everything and hand out the bags,” Becca said. “They’re like digging through and it’s fresh stuff.”

After growing from 60 bags to 75 this year, Betsy said growing the project even more is a realistic goal.

“We’re getting a little bit better at managing larger volumes of food,” Betsy said. “Next year we might be bold enough to bump it up a little bit more.”