Fresh and Healthy Food For All

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, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has engaged a wide-ranging group of partners in all aspects of the food economy to help create a more equitable food system in Columbia County.

A first of its kind and scope, Fresh and Healthy Food for All is a five-year project designed to transform the food system over time for the benefit of all residents, especially low-income families and seniors. Over 80 local community members involved in food-related industries across the county—including farms, food pantries, distributors, food retailers, community-based organizations and public agencies—contributed to the project’s development. 

PARTNERS AND GRANTS

To date, Fresh and Healthy Food for All has made grants totaling over $685,000. Currently in its fourth year, the initiative has awarded more than $173,000 in funding to three critical partners.

HAWTHORNE VALLEY ASSOCIATION

A grantee from the beginning, Hawthorne Valley Association is building on three years of inspiring work by:

  • Expanding a gleaning program that delivers unused or unsaleable produce directly to food pantries
  • throughout Columbia County, in partnership with Long Table Harvest.
  • Increasing the routes of Rolling Grocer 19, a fresh food market on wheels, to serve areas beyond Hudson where food access is low and poverty is high. The market uses a tiered pricing system to make wholesome foods accessible to all customers.
  • Improving the infrastructure of Rolling Grocer 19’s brick-and-mortar storefront in Hudson, and launching
  • nutrition education programs for local families in collaboration with the Sylvia Center (see reverse).
  • Bringing together food activists and residents in New Lebanon to plan projects to expand food access.

THE SYLVIA CENTER

Another original partner, the Sylvia Center, aims to bring its one-of-a-kind healthy cooking programs for young people and their families to all six of Columbia County’s public school districts through this initiative. Through hands-on learning, participants gain skills to prepare and eat healthy meals and become champions for healthy food in their communities.

In year four, the school-based “residency” program developed with the Germantown and Taconic Hills school districts will launch in Kinderhook’s Ichabod Crane district. As part of the program, groups of students and teachers will visit Katchkie Farm, Sylvia Center’s 60-acre organic farm, which has been growing healthy, sustainable food since 2007.

GROW THE VALLEY

Grow the Valley lets low-income families and seniors double the purchasing power of their federal food and nutrition benefits to buy fresh, local food at the New Lebanon Farmers Market.

THE PROJECT IN CONTEXT

More than 11% of Columbia County’s estimated 63,000 residents live in poverty and nearly one in 10 are food insecure, or lacking sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. Many of those struggling to avoid hunger are seniors and children. More than 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 — 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):

HOW CAN I SUPPORT FRESH AND HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL?

Learn more about what you can give.

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Sylvia

The Sylvia Center hosted cooking classes in the Germantown Central School District to help young students adopt skills, habits and attitudes that drive healthier lifelong behaviors. Photo by John Dolan

RollingGrocer

Rolling Grocer 19’s Hudson storefront uses a tiered pricing system to make wholesome food affordable. Photo by John Dolan