Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sharing the CSA Bounty

It's always difficult tackling the issue of fresh food accessibility. It's so important that everyone be able to afford and access healthy, fresh produce. It's also important that the solution presented isn't that farmers sell their food more cheaply. Trying to solve urban poverty by creating more rural poverty doesn't help strengthen our food system at all!
I've tried to find creative ways of making our excesses of fresh vegetables more broadly accessible in Kitchener-Waterloo without shouldering the cost of donations too heavily myself. This is done through donations of our CSA leftovers each week, and the creation of our Member Supported Community Shares fund which provides subsidized shares using a pool of money donated by CSA members. Here's how they work this year:
CSA Leftovers
CSA leftovers each week include any shares not picked up, as well as the extra items we harvest for the Choice Table to make sure the last arrivals still have good options to choose between. Tuesday donations go to St. John’s Kitchen – a community kitchen run by The Working Centre downtown Kitchener that provides lunch for up to 300 people from all walks of life. Most of the work of St. John's - the preparing of meals, the sharing of friendships, and the distribution of food - builds on people looking after each other, contributing what they can and being actively involved in productive work.  Friday’s vegetables are delivered to Welcome Home Refugee Housing Community by an extremely generous member each week. This community exists to provide short-term housing to new refugee arrivals and provides assistance with settlement and advocacy to help newcomers engage locally. On weeks with particularly large donation amounts, some may also go to the Ray of Hope Community Centre which provides a place of safety and support (as well as a hot meal!) to those struggling through poverty and homelessness in the core of downtown Kitchener.

Member Supported Community Shares
This year we had a whopping total of $2,895 donated by members to our subsidy fund!! AMAZING! We’ve used this fund to offer sliding scale memberships to 19 households with limited incomes including those on Social Assistance, under-employed, new Canadians, students and others with financial limitations that would otherwise have made CSA memberships quite challenging.

Thanks to our generous CSA members for helping share the veggie bounty more broadly in our community.