FRESH AND HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL

Good health is out of reach for anyone without ready access to fresh and healthy foods. To tackle this challenge in bountiful Columbia County, Berkshire Taconic has engaged a wide-ranging group of partners in all aspects of the food economy to help create a more equitable food system.

A first of its kind and scope in Columbia County, Fresh and Healthy Food for All is a five-year project funded by two anonymous donors and designed to transform the food system over time for the benefit of all residents, especially low-income families and seniors. It was developed after careful consultation with over 80 local community members involved in food-related industries across Columbia County—including farms, food pantries, distributors, food retailers, community-based organizations and county agencies.

Fresh and Healthy Food for All Stakeholder List [PDF, 133KB]
 

CURRENT GRANTMAKING (YEAR 2)

Funding for a second year of projects totals $150,000:

  • Hawthorne Valley Association (Ghent) - $90,000 to fund multiple projects begun during the first year of grantmaking through this initiative: expansion of the gleaning program with  Long Table Harvest (Hudson); research and development of a business plan for a mobile food market; development and marketing of a new seafood buying club in Hudson; and research on how and where federal SNAP benefits are accessed in Columbia County. 
  • The Sylvia Center (Kinderhook) - $60,000 to expand healthy cooking classes for young people and their families in Columbia County's six school districts. An integrated healthy eating program will launch through the Germantown Central School District, while the healthy cooking classes for Hudson teens and families begun in Year 1 continue. The program provides free shares of fresh, local produce and wholesome ingredients for participants to take home each week. 
     

THE PROJECT IN CONTEXT

One in 10 of Columbia County’s estimated 62,000-plus residents live in poverty and about 13% are food insecure, or lacking sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. One-third of those struggling to avoid hunger are seniors and children. Half of the county’s public school students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

Over the last decade, the number of grocery stores in the county has shrunk by nearly one-fifth. Due to store closures and a lack of reliable transportation, approximately 15% of the population is without ready access to a supermarket. At the same time, the food sector has increasingly shifted to serve the demands of seasonal residents, weekenders and tourists.

About one-quarter of the land in Columbia County is dedicated to agricultural production, a number that has declined by 11% over the last five years on record.
 

RESOURCES

Fresh and Healthy Food for All in Columbia County, NY: Preliminary Findings [PDF, 5,830KB] This document is an adapted and abridged version of a document prepared for Berkshire Taconic by Karen Karp & Partners.

Mapping Variations Across the County (all maps © Ben Kerrick / Karen Karp & Partners, 2015):

Press Release: Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation Launches Five-Year Project to Improve Access to Healthy Food in Columbia County

HOW CAN I SUPPORT FRESH AND HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL?

Learn more about what you can give.

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Photo: The Sylvia Center