PANTRY FARM MARKETS
HEALTH, EQUITY, AND ACCESS IN OUR LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS
The HAELFS Collaborative (acronym written out above) that Access of West Michigan facilitates aims to address food insecurity by increasing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables. By investing in local farms and creating affordable healthy food retail sites through our partnering pantry resource centers, we are cultivating win-win solutions to build a more resilient food system. This collaborative is addressing health disparities in Kent County’s low income neighborhoods through education, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) cohorts, Pantry Farm Markets, and much more.
The five sites involved in this collaborative include:
- North Kent Connect
- The Other Way Ministries
- The Pantry
- United Church Outreach Ministries (UCOM)
- SECOM Resource Center
“Collaboration is a key part of our work. We ALL have a part to play in bettering the local food system for ALL people,” shares Erin Skidmore, Good Food Systems Coordinator, “we know we have work to do as we intentionally move away from the traditional charity model and innovative solutions that address root causes of food insecurity.”
In the past year 3,541 participants reported an increase in Food Security. 96% of market shoppers report that the Pantry Farm Markets made it easier to access affordable fruits and vegetables in their neighborhood, with 93% reported that they eat more fruits and vegetables because of the markets. Check out this flyer for market locations and hours.
SHAPING HEALTHIER COMMUNITIES
Families connect with local food pantry resource centers to receive fresh farm foods purchased and donated from local farms. Families also participate in classes on how to use CSA food to prepare fresh and healthy meals and how to properly preserve and store that fresh food. Classes also help families understand Food System history, agriculture, community, justice, and organization. These classes aim to equip participants on how to change local food systems to help make local neighborhoods healthier places to live and grow.
As a result of our Farm to Pantry Program, local pantries have taken the initiative to shift to healthier messaging and education, to create strong action amongst community members toward healthier environments around them. Through the HAELFS Collaborative, $73,760 has been invested into local farms in the past year (fiscal year 2018-2019).