Project objectives from proposal:
During the 2006 growing season Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC) initiated a pilot program in partnership with the Full Plate Farm Collective to offer subsidized CSA shares for low-income residents. Financial support was granted from the United Way of Tompkins County, the Ithaca Health Alliance, and Full Plate CSA member donations to subsidize shares. The pilot program provided 18 low-income families access to a variety of fresh local produce for 12 weeks through subsidized CSA shares that were received in conjunction with a free cooking and nutrition class taught by CCETC nutrition educators. Class participants learned how to prepare the vegetables included in their shares and received lessons on nutrition and food safety. Additionally, a childcare nutrition curriculum was developed and 20 children learned about food groups and prepared easy nutritious snacks every week.
This project will enable us to expand this program, build upon its success, and create a model that can be replicated yearly. In order to expand the program to include additional farmers, offer additional subsidized shares, and ensure program sustainability, we need to build more intentional partnerships with community based organizations such as community centers, churches, and food pantries that work with underserved populations. CCETC does not have direct relationships with populations in need or the staff capacity to act as the sole administrator of a larger program. CCETC will act as a program facilitator and supply overall logistical and program support to farmers and community organizations.
For the 2007 growing season we will continue our partnership with the Full Plate Collective and collaborate with at least two additional CSA farms. We will connect each participating CSA to a community-based organization that wishes to increase the ability of low-income families and individuals to access to affordable nutritious produce. All share recipients will be able to take the free cooking and nutrition class at CCETC. CCETC will facilitate the connection between farms and community-based organizations and help each community - based organization to develop logistics plans for outreach, fundraising, drop offs, and accounting that can be replicated yearly.
CCETC has already secured funds to subsidize six shares and anticipates continued support from last year’s partners, the United Way and the Ithaca Health Alliance, for a total of 18 shares. CCETC will work with CSA farms to solicit donations through established CSA membership and with community-based organizations to develop fundraising plans that can be replicated yearly. This year we will raise a minimum of 36 subsidized shares.
This program will work because we will build upon a successful pilot project and because we will be drawing on the skills and capacities of farmers and community organizations to provide fresh produce to eligible populations in need. CCETC has the capacity to forge these connections, facilitate program development and provide logistical support, provide added value to the program through nutrition education, and has access to funds for subsidized shares. This program will be sustainable because we will work with community organizations and farmers to create a model which can be replicated yearly. Funds are requested to establish the model.