You can do this, too: Lexington church’s fresh food program reaches out to lower income neighbors with deep discount

Rick Courtney loads tomatoes into a crate bound
for Fresh Stop (Herald-Leader photo by Charles Bertram)

Fresh produce comes to the church-goers of Fresh Presbyterian Church of Lexington every Sunday through Fresh Stop, a community-supported agriculture program. But it’s not your typical CSA program; this one comes with a charitable twist.

Sure, members sign up to receive fresh produce weekly during the summer growing season but, writes Mary Meehan of the Lexington Herald-Leader, here 25 percent of the members pay a nominal amount because they live in a “food desert,” where fresh food is hard to come by, and have lower incomes. To cover the difference, explains Meehan, the other 75 percent of members pay slightly more than a CSA normally would cost.

“That’s the key,” said Libby Iverson, a church member and Fresh Stop member. “We need to share. That’s very important.”

The farm-to-table non-profit supplies tomatoes and cabbage, sweet
peppers and onions that fill a table last Sunday were literally gleaming with
freshness. All were picked from farmer Rick Courtney’s Harrison County field just
the day before, Meehan notes. It was all the brainchild of student Julia Hofmeister, who, armed with a major in sustainable agriculture at the University of Kentucky and having been part of the local Community Farm Alliance, set out in 2009 to find a farmer. Courtney was a tobacco farmer in Cynthiana, now a section of his farm on the South Fork of the Licking River is filled with vegetables.

Many of the low-income families served by the program are referred by Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

Wheeler said one of the biggest concerns in expanding the program is that families often don’t know what to do with all the produce they receive. Hofmeister thinks the program can be made to work elsewhere. “It is so transferrable,” she said. (Read more)

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