One year ago, during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the prevailing guidance on grocery shopping was to have enough food on hand to stay at home for two weeks. For a growing number of food-insecure households, many also affected by sudden unemployment and public transportation shutdowns, securing enough healthy food to stay isolated for two weeks became an insurmountable challenge.
In response, AdkAction and the Hub on the Hill, with invaluable support from generous individuals and foundation funders, delivered tens of thousands of meals made from locally-sourced ingredients to families in need with the Emergency Food Packages (EFP) project over a 26 week period. As the effort began to wind down, survey data indicated that at least half of EFP recipients would purchase the packages after the emergency food relief program came to an end. To respond to that demand, and to continue to support families in the region facing insecurity, AdkAction launched Fair Food Pricing incentive program and provided in-depth technical assistance to help the Hub on the Hill launch a new e-commerce site where an updated version of the food packages could be customized, purchased online at a significant discount, and delivered throughout the region. We continue to adapt our work to meet new challenges. Here’s how we’re moving forward to build on the success of the Emergency Food Package project:
- We’ve partnered with Forage Payments to help The Hub on the Hill join the likes of Amazon and Walmart as one of a small handful of businesses operating in NYS authorized to accept SNAP online. This tool could help NYS farmers, food hubs, and locally-owned food retailers access new customers, while helping our most food-insecure households eat healthy local food.
- After successfully piloting our Fair Food Pricing program with the Hub on the Hill, we’re expanding to include more vendors. Fair Food Pricing offers 30% off local food products to help bridge the affordability gap for local families that qualify. We are also offering an Emergency Fair Food Pricing Tier which discounts food by 90% in case of future pandemics, natural disasters, climate change, or other triggering event. The Emergency Tier will also be available to local families experiencing extreme hardship on a case-by-case basis.
- Our Executive Director has been elected as the co-chair of the newly formed Adirondack Food System Network, a collaboration of multiple organizations working together as equal partners to better understand system-wide issues, identify gaps and develop realistic solutions to help strengthen and promote a more resilient food system.
- We are supporting Cornerstone Drug in Rouses Point as it incorporates our successful farmacy model into its business plan. We will help Cornerstone Drug accept SNAP, Double Up Food Bucks, and it will be added to our short list of approved Fair Food Pricing vendors. Cornerstone Drug’s “Farmacy” project has also received generous support from JCEO and Clinton County Health Department. We are thrilled to see our Farmacy model being replicated.
Thirty percent of the population of New York State has now received a full vaccine series. Today, armed with our masks, most people can walk into grocery stores with comparatively little trepidation. Yet, food insecurity is still a daily struggle for 16% of the population in our region, and with the collapse of rural grocery stores, delivery has become a critical mechanism for getting food to rural tables. We are committed to closing the food gap with nutritious food grown by hard working local farmers. You can support this work by making a donation to our Fair Food Pricing Fund or by signing up to volunteer.
Photo credit: Ben Stechschulte