The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

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NOFA/Mass Celebrates First Year of CSA Connect Program

This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2012 October Issue Newsletter

CSA Connect

In Boston, as in many other areas across the United States, low-income families suffer disproportionately from health problems such as obesity and heart disease, brought on by diets lacking fresh, healthy foods. For example, coronary heart disease is 40 percent higher among those living below the federal poverty line compared with higher-income.

A primary obstacle to those families obtaining fresh vegetables and fruits is simply a lack of access to grocery stores and other retailers that sell fruits and vegetables. The Johns Hopkins Center For a Livable Future released a report that noted “many residents in low-income neighborhoods instead rely on small independent grocers where availability of F&V is highly limited, typically more expensive, and of poorer quality.”

How do we address this healthy disparity caused by a lack of access to fresh healthy food?

In February 2012 NOFA/Mass launched a project to tackle the issue head on.

That project, CSA Connect, connects families in low-income communities in the Greater Boston area to weekly deliveries of fresh local food, thereby eliminating the obstacle of access and guaranteeing high quality nutritious produce. 

In the first six months we built partnerships between two community-based organizations and Massachusetts farms that run Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and provided weekly deliveries of fresh food to nearly 50 families.

In East Boston, we connected the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center with Farmer Dave. In Roxbury, we connected Madison Park Development Corporation with Many Hands Organic Farm. Both the Dana Farber “Open Doors to Health” program and the Let’s Get Movin’ campaign provided additional funding to subsidize the cost of the CSA for select families.

The program has received much guidance from the Haley House in Roxbury, MA. In addition to providing guidance on community relationships, NOFA/Mass has also partnered with Haley House for a three-part series of cooking workshops for the CSA participants at Madison Park.

So far this year, we have reached nearly 50 families, and expect to see sales in excess of $23,000 for the two participating farms. By the beginning of June 2013 when the next season starts, we expect to have added an additional three CSA Connect distribution sites, increased CSA membership at our previously existing sites to reach a total of 120 families, and created more than $50,000 in sales to Massachusetts farms.

The NOFA/Mass CSA Connect program was launched by Metro Boston Organizer, Drew Love.  For more information about CSA Connect, you can reach Drew at drew@nofamass.org

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