Michigan Fitness Foundation (MFF) works to reduce the gap between local farmers and consumers by providing fruits and vegetables across the state through the Michigan Farm to Family: CSA (MF2FCSA) program. In its second year, the program serves families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). SNAP benefits supplement food budgets for families facing stressful financial circumstances.
In the traditional Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model people subscribe and pay the farm in advance to receive weekly box of fresh produce. In the past, families facing stressful financial circumstances were unable to participate in traditional CSAs. The MF2FCSA program removes that barrier.
“We know families using SNAP want to by healthy food but have difficulty accessing fresh locally grown produce ,” says MFF Project Manager Jane Whitacre. “This program helps address those issues and makes it possible for people to purchase delicious and affordable fresh vegetables and fruits grown by local farmers.”
The program pays 75 percent of the cost for CSA membership with grant funding provided by USDA’s Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program administered by MFF.
“For example, a CSA box of beautiful locally grown produce priced at $20 will cost the participant only $5 and the federal dollars pays the balance to the farmers,” explains Whitacre.
Local farms and local organizations recruit families in their communities to join the CSA. Participants receive approximately 10 pounds of seasonal produce each week. Last year, MF2FCSA had eight participating CSA farms and sold about 3500 boxes or 35,000 pounds of fresh produce.
“This year, the program has grown to 17 participating CSA farms around the state,” shares Whitacre. “We expect to sell close to 9000 boxes or 90,000 pounds of fresh produce statewide.”
In addition to adding a chain of commerce for local CSA farmers, the program improves access to fresh food for families. Affordable access to nutritious food supports nutrition security by providing families with food that meets the dietary needs necessary for a healthy lifestyle.
Nutrition education provided by MFF SNAP-Ed partners enhance and makes the program stronger. Nutrition educators provide a variety information including recipes, ways to prepare and cook the food, tips to store the food to prevent waste, and how to make half their plate fruits and vegetables that aligns with USDA’s MyPlate guidance.
“We support Michigan agriculture by connecting new consumers to fresh, seasonal produce grown in their community,” Whitacre says. “It’s exciting to partner with local farmers and community organizations and know we all are helping to put nutritious Michigan grown fruits and vegetables on the tables of Michigan families.”
For more information about the program, including how to join as a CSA farm or MF2FCSA program participant, visit https://michiganfitness.org/food/mi-farm-to-family.
This article was sponsored by the Michigan Fitness Foundation.