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CSAs Offer Mutual Benefit for Farmers and Low-Income Members

April 22, 2008

For low-income CSA members, weekly deliveries of fresh produce contribute to healthy meals and strong communities. Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) allow individuals to purchase shares of a farmer’s crop that they receive in the form of produce deliveries over the course of the growing season. Farmers benefit from the advance payment for the seasons crop, while CSA members gain reliable access to fresh, organic, local produce. CSAs are a win-win proposition for many low-income families in neighborhoods where fresh produce is much less accessible than processed, packaged food. Though the expense associated with traditional CSAs often limits enrollment to affluent members, New York City CSA sponsors NYCCAH, Just Food, and United Way work to increase access to their CSAs by accepting food stamps; allowing members to pay for their shares in installments; and enrolling a percentage of higher-income members to offset the cost of low-income member shares. For Zoraima Rodriguez, president of the United Tremont CSA in Mt. Hope, the CSA contributes not only to her family’s health, but to the strength of her neighborhood. CSA-sponsored family cooking classes unify neighbors in the common goal of eating well. Says Rodriguez, “my girls used to eat a lot of McDonald’s before and different street food. Now they don’t ask for it. They eat more fruits; they eat more vegetables. I see that they’re more active…in the community.” This year NYCCAH will co-sponsor the second season of the West Harlem CSA and the founding season of a CSA in Long Island City. For further information or to join one of these CSAs, please contact Michael Paone in West Harlem at 212-316-7490 ext. 7591, mpaone@nyccah.org or Danielle Seidita in Long Island City at 212.741.8192 ext. 5, dseidita@hungeractionnys.org

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