Bringing the Whole Community to Community Supported Agriculture
By Megan Larmer, Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming
In the Hudson Valley region of New York State, Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming was able to support accessibility for the farmers in its Hudson Valley CSA Coalition thanks to a USDA Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP, formerly known as FINI) grant. The funds allowed them to pilot their “CSA is a SNAP” program to address the structural mismatch between Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and the USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); CSA farmers rely on the cash they receive when members buy in at the start of the season, while SNAP participants receive benefits each month. The program uses GusNIP funding to capitalize a revolving loan fund. The fund allows the Coalition to pre-purchase and subsidize shares from CSA farms that the farms then sell to SNAP users at a 30% discount. The SNAP monies collected by the farms are then earmarked to be returned to the revolving fund at the end of the season.
“CSA is a SNAP’ supported five farms in its pilot season, experimenting with two different distribution models to improve its accessibility. It also trained participating farmers in language justice, becoming SNAP retailers, and structural racism in the food system. In a challenging first year turned on its head by COVID-19, these farmers provided 40+ SNAP households with fresh produce at a time when people were showing more interest than ever in connecting with local farms.
Learn more about Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program
Learn more about SNAP acceptance at farm stands
Photo Credits: Katherine Anstreicher, Megan Larmer