The giveaway will occur on the Aug. 28 Philomath Farmers’ Market. (File photo by Brad Fuqua/Philomath News)

It’s On Us, a volunteer project of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition Food Action Team, and Philomath Farmers’ Market announced this week a collaboration to give away $10,000 to people in Philomath to use at the farmers’ market and other locally-owned food businesses.

IOU and the Philomath Farmers’ Market were both established during the COVID-19 pandemic to address food insecurity, support local farmers and food producers, and build community. Local fundraising is underway to double the dollar amount.

Philomath Farmers’ Market is a project of Bountiful Backyard, a nonprofit organization, and is managed by Janel Lajoie. Each Sunday throughout the summer, farmers, artisans, musicians and community members gather from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Philomath Community Library (1050 Applegate St.) to buy local produce, handcrafted goods, and baked and prepared foods, including pizza from a wood-fired mud oven.

It’s On Us is a project founded in April 2020 by three Corvallis Sustainability Coalition volunteers with the idea of building community and supporting the local economy through food. The idea quickly gained traction, and to date IOU has circulated over $400,000 to support Benton County residents and the local economy.

IOU gives gift cards to encourage people to support locally owned restaurants, food businesses and the First Alternative Co-op, and build community through the act of giving and receiving gifts. Most people who use IOU both receive gift cards and give when they can, continuing the spirit of “pay it forward when you are able, however you are able.”

Gift cards are distributed through Kuto, a local smartphone payment app. Kuto enables the program to distribute thousands of dollars and meals in a streamlined, sustainable way, at regular food places during normal operating hours. Using Kuto is the same if someone is using their bank account or a gift card.

Organizers say that through the Kuto distribution method, food help is anonymous, destigmatized and easy. To get one of 400 gift cards of $25, visit the Philomath Farmers’ Market on Aug. 28 with a smartphone with data access (free wifi is available through the library). Everyone is welcome.

The giveaway is possible community support, including large donations from American Rescue Plan Act through Benton County ($100,000), private donors ($35,000), Benton Community Foundation ($20,000) and donor-advised fund from the Oregon Community Foundation ($1,000).