Supported CSA program improves food access

 

Last updated 3/23/2022 at Noon



Local farmers are committed to a belief that everyone should have access to nutrient-dense food that is good for people and for the environment.

The effort to improve access to quality, locally grown food got a boost this season. The High Desert Food & Farm Alliance (HDFFA) is partnering with local farmers and the Pacific Northwest CSA Coalition (PNWCSA) to launch a new supported CSA program.

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is one in which an individual pays a farm for a membership that entitles them to a “share” of the farm’s harvest — commonly a set quantity of fresh foods made available to the member for pickup on a periodic basis. This has become a popular way to buy tasty, seasonal fruit and vegetables, directly from the farmer.

There are many benefits, but also often large barriers, to programs such as these, including financial hardship, and transportation limitations. This new program will make CSAs more affordable for families and individuals that utilize SNAP/EBT (formerly known as food stamps).

The cost is paid for by three sources: SNAP, a program that doubles your SNAP called Double Up Food Bucks, and by HDFFA, for up to a 75 percent discount.

Seed to Table and Mahonia Gardens are both involved in this program in Sisters. Although Seed to Table has paused enrollment for this season, Mahonia Gardens still has shares available for SNAP users.

“As small farmers, we are very excited to have a way to make our food more accessible! We relate to the need for financial support as we had food stamps for over 10 years,” said Carys Wilkins and Benji Nagel of Mahonia Gardens. “Living in Ashland in our 20s we would get $60/week of EBT tokens at our farmers market to buy veggies. We were so grateful that this was an option for us. Since we started our farm 10 years ago, we have been trying to find the best way to support low-income families in getting fresh, nutrient-dense food. Every human has a right to quality food.”

Program participants will receive a weekly or biweekly box of fresh produce, as well as nutrition information, recipes, pickup support, and guidance on the share that will best meet their needs. CSA share sizes vary to meet a family’s or individual’s needs. Participants can be referred by their medical care provider or can express interest to HDFFA or the farm directly. They must currently be receiving SNAP/EBT to participate. To learn more or fill out an interest form, visit https://www.hdffa.org/snapcsa.

 

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