ONEONTA, N.Y. – For several years CADE, The Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) – a local nonprofit in the Central New York region – has been working on advancing partnerships between Farms and Institutions to spur local food sales. As a response to COVID-19 and abundant food insecurity that was highlighted throughout the pandemic, CADE launched a Farm to Pantry (F2P) Program with generous funding and community partnership in Otsego County. The program allows pantries to “sign on” to CADE’s program where they can then order from a multi-farm aggregator, The 607 CSA, part of the newly formed non profit Catskills Agrarian Alliance, to purchase local products for their pantry.
During the first season of the program six food pantries participated and as the fourth season comes to a close over 14 pantries have benefited from the F2P program. Local community members navigating food insecurity are able to access farm fresh products including items such as beef, dairy and produce.
“The Farm to Pantry program was a huge benefit to our pantry. We were able to give high-quality produce, meat and dairy products to our families” said Joanne Feldstein of the Otsego Community Food Pantry, “something we otherwise would not have been able to do… either financially or logistically.”
The 607 CSA was a natural fit for the Farm to Pantry program as they are extremely dedicated to healthy food being a human right. The 607 CSA not only partners in the Farm to Pantry project but also actively seeks to expand their fresh-food reach by offering cost-adjusted CSA shares. The F2P program has been able to support over 20 local farms by purchasing fresh products via the 607 CSA. This then supports the health of the community relying on over 14 area food pantries.
“Being a part of the program allowed us to distribute fresh. nutritious produce and other food items to the food insecure who might otherwise not have been able to purchase it on their own” reported Nancy Vroman of the Helping Hands Food Pantry. “The program enabled us to provide and promote examples of healthier food choices which is the focus of our food pantry.”
CADE facilitates ordering, invoicing and delivery coordination so that local food ordered by pantries can be purchased with ease. The products ordered from pantries are paid for by community funding, to support a win-win of local fresh food to pantries and a stable market for struggling farm and food businesses. This program and local food was of no cost to pantries, with the hope that relationships with farms would continue beyond the scope of the project. Thanks to funding support from the Hunger Coalition of Otsego County, CADE and the 607 CSA will continue this important work of fresh food security and supporting small farms and food businesses.