It occurred to me that not all CSA members, volunteers and friends of Clagett farm know about our partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank. On the other hand, many of you know about it and this was one of the reasons you joined this CSA- because you wanted to support our mission of distributing healthy, local produce to individuals and families at all income levels. Either way, I assumed that most if not all readers of this blog would want to know more about the food grant program, so I asked Anika Roth from the Capital Area Food Bank to prepare a few blog posts about their role and presence at Clagett farm.
Remember- you can make a financial contribution to the Share the Harvest program to help us keep our commitment to donate between 40-50% of our income to low-income folks in the DC metro area. We take checks made payable to "Capital Area Food Bank" and you can send it straight to the farm or give it to the staff person at your pick up site. Donations are tax deductible. Visit http://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/programsresources/sth.cfm for more info.
Hi, I’m Anika with the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB). I want to let you know about some of the wonderful work that your farm does for the community. Since 1992, CAFB and Clagett have partnered to help get 40-50% of Clagett’s produce donated to underserved communities. From the Ground Up (FGU) programs include Farm Youth Initiative (coming back in 2010), Reduced Price Shares for individuals who live at 185% of the federal poverty guidelines, and the FGU Food Grant.
The FGU Food Grant is a program in which CAFB member agencies (food pantries, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc) apply to receive produce from Clagett Farm. Competing agencies complete an application and are interviewed. Only 8-10 agencies are chosen each year. This is the program I coordinate. Currently, we have 9 agencies participating in the FGU Food Grant. I visit them throughout the summer to see the innovative ways they are using the produce and hear stories about the people they serve. My first trip was to DC Central Kitchen which takes unused food from local food distribution services, turns it into meals, and distributes the meals to adults and children. They also train unemployed and underprivileged people to be chefs.
This is DC Central’s second consecutive year in the FGU Food Grant. The program has really inspired them to work hard to find more fresh, local produce. Through a recent initiative, DC Central Kitchen is trying to get as many local ingredients in their meals as possible. On my tour of the kitchen, I saw their salad prep station. They include a fresh salad in every Ready To Eat meal – usually a tossed salad. As you can imagine, local lettuce is a HUGE expense for them, but now that they’ve gone local, they can’t go back - shipped lettuce is so depressing! The donations of lettuce from Clagett Farm are incredibly helpful. With the money they’ve saved from all the FGU Food Grant donations, they have been able to invest in other local farms.
One thing you should know about the FGU Food Grant is that drivers from each agency are required to come to the farm to get the produce, in part to maintain the connection between the farm and table. Still, drivers don’t always initially understand the quality of the produce they’re handling and may be a little rough with it. That’s why DC Central Kitchen tries to get all their drivers to volunteer at the farm for a day. They have seen a marked difference in the careful way drivers handle produce after that, and the drivers love it! DC Central staff and volunteers are always clamoring to come visit the farm. Recently, farmer Carrie hosted a group of DC Central "co-op" volunteers. These are the volunteers who wash and chop all the Clagett veggies for use in the meals the next day. The volunteers had a blast! They really appreciated Carrie taking the time to educate them about sustainable practices. And they weren’t afraid to get dirty either! (At least from the pictures I saw.) It’s neat to see the way DC Central is connecting their staff and volunteers to the farm, especially since many of their staff used to be former clients!
For 17 years, the same chemical-free, super fresh, sustainably grown produce that you have gotten in your weekly share has also gone to people who use Food Stamps, people in addictions recovery, kids in aftercare programs, and low-income folks living with HIV/AIDS. By supporting FGU through your CSA membership, you are also helping to support these FGU programs.
Below, photos from DCCK helping with the garlic harvest!
In the middle photo, from left to right: Greg, Elsie, Bo, Jeffrey, Mason, Harry, and Carrie (your farmer).