Cost effectively grows and provides fresh produce for over 90,000 meals a year. Serves veterans, elderly, handicapped, children, homeless.
Community ReStart Food Net
A Nutritional Community Food Network
Food Net is a local food support system providing fresh produce to meal sites in Berkshire County. It was in response to pantries and meal sites that were unable to keep up with the food demand in 2008.
The Food Net now provides fresh produce to eight sites supplying 90,000 meals a year. The output has steadily increased from 6,000 pounds of produce in 2009 to 21,000 pounds of produce in years 2012 and 2013. These 21,000 pounds of fresh produce were delivered to local meal sites at a cost of about 21 cents per pound.
The present main suppliers to local food banks and meal sites provide mostly processed, refined foods relying on Federal Government networks for access and distribution. Whereas the Food Net provides a wide variety of nutritious, locally-grown produce that is not dependent on vulnerable federal grants or on expensive transportation networks. It ensures a much more comprehensive nutritional safety net.
Food Net is rectifying the widening nutritional disparity between those who can afford fresh produce and those who cannot. The meal sites and food pantries serve the most vulnerable segments of our population: veterans, elderly, handicapped, and families with children.
Turning Empty City Lots into Gardens
The Food Net has rejuvenated empty lots into beautiful, highly-productive gardens. As part of its goal of producing clean food, gardeners and young people are educated about sound sustainable organic gardening practices. The Department of Agriculture of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst tests all of the soils for proper nutrition and for contaminants.
Gardens at high profile locations include 55 Fenn Street, Linden Street, 133 Dalton Avenue, and 247 South Street. The Commons Garden will expand the program.
The garden has become a significant learning tool for young children. It is a powerful lesson to plant, maintain, harvest, cook and serve the food at community meal sites.
Farmers’ Second Harvest
Instead of composting unsold vegetables and other crops, farmers distribute them to the community. During 2010 this program yielded approximately 4,000 pounds of produce.
Produce distributors, restaurants, resorts, and grocery stores, as well as the “Buy One, Leave One” program, are all part of this food network through their regular donations.
Watch the “Berkshire Food Net” on this YouTube video.