Local Produce Link is Fresh Food for All's largest project.  We are currently working in partnership with United Way of NYC to bring fresh vegetables from local farms to 44 food pantries and soup kitchens in NYC.   Local Produce Link receives funding from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) at the New York State Department of Health.

In the Local Produce Link model, a farmer delivers fresh produce to a "hub" food pantry each week during the growing season (June through November).  On the same day, nearby food pantries pick up their vegetables from the hub food pantry.  Veggies are distributed fresh to food pantry clients within 2 days of delivery! 

Each food pantry receives three different types of vegetables every week:

  • one root vegetable

         examples include carrots, beets, onions,  or potatoes

  • one cooking or salad green

      examples include lettuce, collard greens, cabbage, or swiss chard

  • one seasonal vegetable

      examples include zucchini, cucumbers, sweet corn, or kohlrabi  

Food pantries receive about 200 pounds of vegetables each week or approximately 6 to 10 boxes. The produce assortment varies over the course of the season and includes both familiar favorites such as tomatoes and lettuce, plus some of the more unusual vegetables such as bok choi (an asian cooking green) and Japanese salad turnips (“hakurei" turnips).
Our Local Produce Link farmers are paid by the pound for vegetable deliveries with funding from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) at the New York State Department of Health.  Similar to Just Food’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in NYC Program, the farmer is paid before the growing season begins. Upfront payment is an important benefit to our farmers.  As one of our Local Produce Link farmers says:
“Because of the upfront payment and straightforward planning it allows, this program gives us a solid plan for the growing season. For our farm, this upfront payment is the biggest benefit of participating in Local Produce Link.”
Through Just Food's Community Food Education Program, we train food pantry staff and volunteers as Community Chefs. Our Community Chefs facilitate cooking demonstrations at food pantries using the Local Produce Link vegetables.
In addition, through our partnership with United Way of NYC and Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables, we provide recipes, nutrition information, and additional cooking demonstrations to food pantry clients to help them prepare the vegetables they receive in healthy and tasty ways. 
Farm visits are a great way for food pantry staff, clients and volunteers to learn more about where their vegetables are coming from. In 2011, 313 food pantry staff, volunteers, and clients participated in 6 farm trips! You can learn more and  see a slideshow on our Farm Visits page.

Want to learn more about Local Produce Link?
Interested in obtaining a copy of our Local Produce Link toolkit? Contact Fresh Food for All Coordinator, Sonya Kharas at sonya[at]justfood[dot]org or by phone at 212-645-9880 ext. 227. 
If you are a farmer, click here to learn more about Fresh Food for All and to find out how to participate.