In my last blog post, Creating a Sustainable Food Access Model in Baltimore, I introduced the issue of hunger in the United States and how Hungry Harvest is on a mission to fight it.
The problem? Nearly 50 million people live in homes that can’t afford fresh food. 13 million children live in homes that can’t afford enough food. That roughly equals the population of NYC and LA combined.
That's why we introduced a new approach to fight hunger. One that goes beyond donating produce. Our intentions are to cultivate food justice by increasing access to fresh, affordable produce to people living in or around food deserts.
1 in 4 residents of Baltimore City live in areas classified as food deserts.
We extend our deepest gratitude to you, our Harvest Heroes, for your support. Thanks to you, we have been able to donate nearly 450,000 pounds of produce to families in need. And we will continue to fight hunger by offering thousands of pounds of produce each week to our donation partners.
But what if we could do more than simply donate produce? What if we could empower food-insecure families and individuals to eat healthy by allowing them to stretch their food budgets? What if we could use schools in food deserts as hubs for families and the community to gather and purchase fresh produce at a discounted price? What if we could make fresh, affordable produce accessible for all, no matter their neighborhood, income level, race, or age? Well, Heroes, that is exactly what we have been working on and are proud to officially announce the launch of “Produce in a SNAP.”
"Number 1: it's nutritious, number 2: it's putting food on my table because it's affordable. I want to feel better about my health and now I can live a healthier life." -Vernell, regular Produce in a SNAP customer
Produce in a SNAP is Hungry Harvest's food access model that tackles hunger through a new lens. We are partnering with Baltimore City Public and Charter schools in food-insecure areas to offer assorted bags of subsidized fruits and veggies to families and residents from the community in need of access to fresh, affordable produce. The name of the program was inspired by the fact that we accept SNAP-EBT, formerly known as food stamps.
53% of families with children in Baltimore City Public School receive SNAP benefits.
We aim to serve those families and individuals on government assistance programs such as SNAP/EBT, WIC, SSDI, TCA, etc, who can benefit from discounted produce. The program promotes healthy eating by allowing people in need to put nutritious produce on their tables that they otherwise may not have been able to afford.
"This is a blessing. I need to take all the blessings I can get." - Senior citizen customer on SNAP benefits
Now, Heroes, for every box we deliver we are not just donating but also subsidizing produce to people living in food insecurity. Through the early stages of Produce in a SNAP, we have partnered with five Baltimore City Public and Charter schools, subsidizing nearly 1,700 bags (over 20,000 pounds of fruits and veggies) to roughly 700 people in need.
"[The Produce in a SNAP launch] was one of the most amazing events I have witnessed in all my years at this school" - Terri Ray, Community School Coordinator since 1997