The “Faces of the Farm Bill” series will shed light on the stories of those who depend on programs currently left stranded or which have had funding cut in past Farm Bill proposals and extensions. The stories will highlight the important and transformative work of the most critical subset of programs and offices in the Farm Bill charged with serving the most chronically underserved segments of agriculture and our rural and urban communities.
Faces of the Farm Bill
Farm Bill Funding: A Community Perspective
Kad, a young man about to graduate from college, has been working for Farm Fresh Choice for five years now. He manages one of the three farmers market stands that the program operates. Having grown up around the block from one of these markets, Kad recognizes himself in some of the kids who come to the stand, who show up with Cheetos in hand but leave with fresh strawberries. Kad has seen the impact of Farm Fresh Choice in his own life and in the culture of the neighborhoods where they work.
Farm Fresh Choice, a program of The Ecology Center, operates low-cost market stands in low-income neighborhoods of Berkeley, California. The youth-run stands bring make healthy fresh food accessible in areas where liquor stores are the norm. Kad connects with families and individuals over Saturday conversations and knowledge sharing about the kinds of foods that are sold at the market, and how to use them. Farm Fresh Choice youth leaders work to interact with and influence kids in the neighborhood who are just beginning to determine their preferences for different foods. The market creates a space for the community to come together, connect over healthy food options, and helps to shift kids’ personal food decisions. The children who frequent the farm stand are faced with a very different food environment once they step out of it. Kad has the chance to break down social assumptions about the accessibility of foods, providing proof that organic foods can actually be affordable, and that access to healthy affordable food is a right, not a privilege. The youth who run the stores have seen the neighborhood transform and gone through their own personal transformation through their work. Through the market, youth learn the benefit of fresh, healthy foods and bring that conviction home to their families.
Funding from the Farm Bill makes this program possible: it offers the support needed to organize the logistics of the market; it increases access to healthy foods for low-income families through SNAP benefits and EBT; it allows community members to share recipes for healthy eating with fresh foods; and it facilitates community-driven change. Food access is food justice. Farm Bill funding for Community Food Programs and SNAP-Education allows local programs to provide the tools for change that all communities deserve. Kad sees the impact this market has on families in the neighborhood every week, and the impact on his community every day. Farm Fresh Choice is just one of many projects funded through critical Farm Bill programs that sparks invaluable change in the communities where they work. The Community Food Programs and SNAP-Education are critical Farm Bill programs for the continuation of building a sustainable, thriving, equitable, and healthy food economy that supports people.