Solution: Local Agriculture
Supporting the Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance
As the new administrative support for the Massachusetts Food Policy Alliance (MFPA), Project Bread is one of 30 farms and related health and food organizations whose goal is to bring together diverse stakeholders across the food system, from farmers to consumers, to create a sustainable, systemic, effective, and inclusive food policy for Massachusetts.
“Our goal in actively supporting the MFPA,” says Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread, “is to create and support communications among farmers, low-income families, health and public health advocates, and environmentalists in new ways that benefit all of us. Through these relationships, we can create a win-win for local farmers and for hungry families needing fresh food.
Farm to School
Since 2004, Project Bread has worked with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project to ensure that low income children have access to fresh, local produce at summer meal sites. Through this collaborative effort, Massachusetts Farm to School connects farmers and Summer Food Service Program sponsors while Project Bread provides seed money for these programs to utilize the fresh product. During the summer of 2010, approximately 20 summer sponsors purchased local produce through this initiative.
In 2010-2011, Project Bread is partnering with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project and the Farm Bureau Agricultural Preservation Corporation to bring the first Massachusetts Kindergarten Initiative to Worcester. This pilot program will connect 300 kindergarteners from four low-income neighborhood schools with school nutrition professionals and farmers to learn about where their food comes from. The project includes fresh, local snacks for taste testing, field trips to local farms, in-class nutrition education and workshops, including cooking demonstrations by Project Bread’s Chef Kirk, for parents.
Farmers’ Markets are one of the easiest ways to access local, fresh produce. Massachusetts had 228 markets in 2010 – ranking sixth in the country.
Yet farmers’ markets can feel inaccessible to families struggling with their food budgets. To make purchasing fresh food easier, 52 of the state’s farmers' markets accepted EBT cards (SNAP/food stamps) in 2010.