NOFA Grants Expand Food Access | Bite Club

NOFA Grants Expand Food Access


VYCC farm stand in Richmond - COURTESY OF JEREMY GERBER
  • Courtesy of Jeremy Gerber
  • VYCC farm stand in Richmond
For almost a decade, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps has grown organic vegetables on its Richmond farm for Vermonters who otherwise might not have access to local, healthy food.

A CSA program founded by the VYCC in 2012 today provides weekly produce,  at no cost, to more than 400 Vermont families through the Health Care Share.  The “farm-to-hospital” program is a partnership between the VYCC, which runs a 10-acre farm, and health care providers around the state.

This summer, the VYCC expanded its reach when it opened a farm stand at 2083 East Main Street in Richmond. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.,  the farm stand accepts 3SquaresVT  benefits for the purchase of vegetables, fruits and herbs. 

Through a Northeast  Organic Farming Association of  Vermont  grant, the VYCC roadside stand is one of four farm stands in Vermont that gives a 50 percent discount to people who purchase produce with the federal food benefit, according to to Emmet Moseley, NOFA-VT's community food access programs coordinator.

The other farm stands that double the purchase power of the 3SquaresVT benefit are: Foote Brook Farm in Johnson, Clear Brook Farm in Shaftsbury and Diggers' Mirth Collective Farm in Burlington.

For the VYCC, building a farm stand — which the nonprofit constructed with assistance from Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield — was an opportunity for the "farm stand experience" and for products to reach more people, said Jessica Laporte, VYCC’s community health program manager.

“The idea behind the farm stand match program is to make household benefits go further and be more affordable,” Laporte said. “Local fresh and organic produce is sometimes economically inaccessible to those who would like to take advantage of it.”

Another program designed to make local produce more accessible, also funded through a NOFA grant, is Crop Cash. In effect through October, the initiative triples the value of a $10 3SquaresVT purchase at farmers markets in Vermont. A $10 purchase using the federal benefit will give the customer $30 worth of food. (The limit of the match is $10, Moseley said.)

Crop Cash serves farmers by increasing their market potential. It benefits consumers by "incentivizing" the purchase of local, healthy food, according to Moseley.

"We're looking to expand markets and expand access," he said. "The two sides of the mission go hand-in-hand."

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