Friday, June 16, 2017

New grant will help low-income people access local food

A new grant of $20,000 from the Allen Foundation arrived just at the right time for GardenShare.  These funds will be used over the next two years to subsidize low-income and working families to either purchase shares in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms, or to help those families purchase food at farmers markets.  In addition, the grant will support the distribution of farmers markets vouchers to children who receive backpacks of food from school.

We had 14 families on the waiting list for our CSA subsidy program for 2017.  While we have already served 30 other households with funds from other grants and individual donors, we had run out of funds to cover all who applied.  Happily, this grant means that we now have provided all 14 families on the waiting list with CSA assistance.

In addition, we had some funds to help families whose children receive backpacks of food from school during the summer, thanks to grants from the United Methodist Women and Stewart’s Shops.  But it was not enough to reach the three schools that we hoped to.  With this grant added to the mix, we distributed cards that can be redeemed at the farmers markets to students in the Canton Golden Bear Pack program, the Potsdam Snack Pack program, and the Massena Back the Pack program.  All three communities have farmers markets where families can use the cards to help purchase nutritious food while school is out for the summer.

GardenShare also has a new program in 2017 that will be funded by this grant.  In order to help lower-income and working families who do not receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called food stamps) benefits, GardenShare is implementing a subsidy for purchases at the farmers markets.  Families with annual incomes of approximately $50,000 or less can double their purchasing power at the farmers markets by buying cards that have a $10 value for just $5.   The cards are purchased from GardenShare and can be redeemed at the farmers markets in Canton, Gouverneur, Massena, and Potsdam.  Full details on eligibility and an application form are available at  or by calling GardenShare at 315-261-8054.

The grant from the Allen Foundation is for two years and will support these same programs next growing season, though it does not cover the full cost of the programs.  GardenShare will seek other grants and donations to ensure the continuation this important work to help lower-income and working households obtain healthy food and to support local farmers.