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Adirondack Food Security Program Awarded $225,000 in Grant Funding

AdkAction has been awarded $225,000 for a food subsidy program that uses innovative technology to help solve the problem of food insecurity in the Adirondack region. A $200,000 grant from Mother Cabrini Health Foundation and a $25,000 Health Equity Innovation Award from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will fund the Fair Food Program in 2024.

The AdkAction Fair Food Program puts the purchase of locally-produced foods in reach for those hovering just above the poverty line, while prioritizing their ability to choose the types of food to purchase for their families. Instead of driving low income individuals into our stressed emergency food system, it allows families in need to shop in dignity just like everyone else. Qualified households use prepaid swipe cards, called Fair Food Cards, to purchase sustainably-produced food sold by over a dozen local farm vendors, including many who sell their goods at area farmers’ markets and their own farm stores. The cards are replenished monthly with stipend amounts based on household size.

To qualify for the program, participants must be located in Clinton, Franklin, Essex, or Hamilton Counties and confirm that their income falls at or below the threshold defined by the United Way’s ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) guidelines. The application process is simple and fast to respect applicants’ privacy and time. This people-centered approach ensures that those who need assistance the most receive the support necessary to enjoy fresh, local produce, while working to include households that might fall through the cracks of other nutrition programs. There is currently a waiting list for participation in the program.

The Fair Food Program grew out of the pandemic-response Emergency Food Packages project launched by AdkAction in 2020, and has grown to work with 75 households and 15 farms and food processors. Over $130,000 in direct subsidies have been distributed and spent locally since the launch of the swipe card program in 2022. 

The Fair Food swipe card program is one component of AdkAction’s food security work, which includes distributing free farm shares, increasing rural grocery access, and supporting community gardens.

“The mission of all our food security efforts at AdkAction is to create a community-based food system in which all residents can participate and prosper, while supporting our local farmers and food processing businesses,” said Hannah Grall, AdkAction Program Manager. “We are incredibly grateful to the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, and numerous individual donors who make the Fair Food Program possible, helping us bring the offerings of our region to so many.”

“Addressing New York’s immediate and long-term health needs requires a comprehensive approach. Over the past five years we have worked to get funding into communities across the State struggling with heightened health inequities. While responding to urgent needs, we’ve also focused on building strong community relationships, funding long-term infrastructure and pursuing community input so that our grantmaking efforts are as impactful and sustainable as possible for New York’s underserved communities both today and for years to come,” said Msgr. Gregory Mustaciuolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation.

“At Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, our mission is to help people lead healthier, more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care.  We’re committed to community partnerships and using our resources to support initiatives that directly target health disparities, promote access to care, and address the underlying social determinants of health, to help ensure everyone can reach their full potential,” said Simone E. Edwards, DrPH, MPH, Excellus BCBS’s vice president health equity and community investments.

More information about the Fair Food Program and AdkAction’s other food security work in the region can be found at AdkAction.org/food-security.

 

Photo: the Excellus BlueCross BlueShield team visits North Country Creamery Farm Store to see Fair Food Cards in action and present a check.

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