New York City has made huge strides in improving food access in underserved neighborhoods in recent years. Greenmarket shoppers with EBT cards get $2 extra for every $5 spent at market in July — November, programs like Edible Schoolyard provide stellar education initiatives in underserved school districts and a myriad of groups offer services that help people receive and maintain Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps, or SNAP) benefits. But a huge number of New Yorkers — 3,000,000 as of 2008 — still live in areas where high quality fresh produce is not readily available. Enter Just Share, a program from access-focused non-profit Just Food.
Just Share is essentially a subsidy program that supports families using SNAP benefits to buy community-supported agriculture shares. Just Food utilizes their extensive CSA network to connect families in underserved neighborhoods with local CSAs that are otherwise cost-prohibitive. The average CSA share in their network costs $450 — $650 per season, and the programs often ask customers to pay up front in order to allow the farmer to purchase vital equipment and seeds for the season. But through the Just Share program, families will be able to pay using their EBT cards in two-week installments and the subsidy will match those payments. This win-win situation means that farmers still receive the full membership cost while more community members are able to participate in CSAs.
This year, Just Food’s hoping to raise $10,000 to support 65 families in the program. They’re in the midst of fundraising efforts and you can pitch in here “This is a yearly online campaign to provide crucial and timely financial support to CSAs in order to meet the needs of their eligible members who use SNAP to help pay for their shares each harvest season,” Just Food CSA network manager Qiana Mickie tells us. By supporting this initiative, you’ll be ensuring that farmers receive a fair price for their produce while supporting families in underserved neighborhoods. Take that, rural-urban nexus.