Access of West Michigan recently announced a new farm to pantry pilot program. The Farm to Pantry pilot program will increase access to locally-grown produce for low-income residents of Kent County, involving over 90 families, 5 local farms and 5 local food pantries. The pilot program will run June-October 2016.
The Farm to Pantry program will connect Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares from local farms to 90 families within the participating five food pantries in Kent County. The families will meet biweekly to receive the produce, cook and learn together, and share recipes.
Another component of this program is the creation and implementation of a Good Food Curriculum. The objective of this curriculum is to promote an understanding of the importance of a healthy food policy in local food pantries. Also included in the curriculum is discussion on: Good Food System principles and practices; health and nutrition; community organizing and food; historical overview of the U.S. food system; and agricultural and food justice.
Access will facilitate this curriculum for the staff, board, and volunteers at the pantry sites and for the families who receive the CSA food.
By investing funds into our local agricultural system and by pairing healthy, local food with education, Access hopes to increase knowledge, accessibility, and food security for those involved in the project.
To measure the impact that this program has on the participants, Access will administer pre-, mid-, and post- surveys. These surveys will identify:
- where pantry users receive the majority of their food;
- what changes they would like to see in terms of the types of food available to them through in their pantries;
- the cooking habits of the participants;
- and their familiarity of fruits and vegetables.
To measure the impact of this program on the pantries, Access will administer pre- and post- assessments to each of the food pantries. These surveys will:
- assess the pantries food inventory;
- identify if the pantry has nutrition standards in place for the types of foods it accepts;
- determine the kinds of learning opportunities that the pantry makes available to their clients;
- and assess if a culture of health and nutrition is present at the pantry.
Partners involved in the Farm to Pantry program include: the Kent County Health Department; Michigan State University Extension; Spectrum Health Healthier Communities; SECOM Resource Center, UCOM, North Kent Community Services, The Pantry, The Other Way Ministries, GRIID, Our Kitchen Table, the West Michigan Growers Group, New City Urban Farm, Full Hollow Farm, Hope Farm of Bethany Christian Services, Peach Ridge Farm, and Green Wagon Farm.
guest post by Autumn Hubbard