The “Healthy Food For All” subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program was developed by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC) in order to provide low-income households access to fresh, nutritious, high quality, organic produce at a price they can afford for a minimum of 12 weeks throughout the summer.
Program participants were enrolled in free cooking and nutrition classes taught by Cooperative Extension Nutrition Educators to learn easy and delicious ways to prepare the produce they received. Many had no experience with fresh produce direct from the farm.
Participants must be food stamp eligible to qualify. The program subsidized half of the cost of a share. Participants paid $32/month paid with cash or food stamps. Farmers received the full share payment through additional funds we had raised.
In 2007, the program served 36 households and a total of 107 individuals. In 2008, with additonal funding and outreach, we served a total of 62 households and 187 individuals.
Farmers, often WIC and food stamp eligible themselves, gained additional members and income by participating in this program. As a result, local sustainable, organic farmers were able to provide food for a segment of the population they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to serve. Two CSA farms participated in the program in 2007 and in 2008, two additional farmers joined the program.
Farmers were paid the full value of the CSA share paid by program participants and matched with funds that were raised. In 2007, the two CSA farms earned a total of $8,832 in additional income; for 2008, the figure will be close to $14,000 for 4 CSA farms. The money paid each farm was based on the number of low-income CSA members joining their CSA.
The strength of our local food system was enhanced by providing improved access for residents who are often unable to purchase adequate amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits for themselves and their families.
-To double program participant enrollment from 2006 to 2007 (18 to 36) – achieved
-To diversify our participant pool to ensure we are engaging audiences that are not familiar with the CSA model and who may not have had any exposure to local foods – achieved
-To involve at least one additional CSA Farm in the program in order to create more pick up options and choice for program participants as well as to involve more local farmers – achieved
-To enable CSA farmers to be paid the full value of a share rather than lowering their income – achieved
-To increase income for farmers – achieved
-To make the program more financially accessible to low-income audiences by accepting food stamps as payment – achieved
-To raise additional funds to allow program participants the option of receiving produce for an additional 5 weeks outside of the established 12 week program delivery timeframe – achieved
-To provide a positive experience with fresh nutritious produce to a diversity of low-income households so that these audiences are equipped to make healthy dietary choices – achieved through cooking classes
-To increase the numbers of households served from 36 to 60 – achieved (62 households involved)
-To increase the numbers of low income households that are “new first-time “CSA members – achieved
-To increase the number of CSA farms involved in the program by 2 – a total of 4 farms participated in 2008
-To raise additional funds needed to offer the program to 60 households for at least 12 weeks and to offer an extended season 5 week share – achieved
-To increase farmer involvement in fundraising to increase sustainability of the program and raise their level of involvement and ownership – achieved
-To help first time CSA members have a successful experience through cooking and food preservation classes – achieved
-To provide additional exposure to local foods via farm field trips – achieved