The Farm-to-Food Pantry Program reclaims food donated from local farms and distributes it to food pantries and soup kitchens across Ulster County with the goal of increasing access to local food in food deserts and areas of poverty.
In Ulster County, 66% of its residents fall below the 185% poverty threshold for Nutrition Assistance Programs and the rate of children with food insecurity is 16% (source: Feeding America).
Local farmers in the Rondout Valley and Hudson Valley are tremendously supportive of the program by making weekly donations of foods they are not able to sell through their retail or wholesale markets.
The Farm-to-Food Pantry Program partnered with UlsterCorps volunteers to “glean” or harvest produce left in farm fields during, or at the end of, the growing season. Crops gleaned included apples, broccoli, greens, blueberries, and more.
In order to extend the growing season and to make local products available throughout the year, RVGA processed local items such as tomatoes into tomato sauce, apples into apple sauce, and froze broccoli, corn, peppers, blueberries, and more. This was made possible by partnering with Ulster County Community Action and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub.
A total of 196,900 pounds of fresh, processed, and frozen local produce was distributed to 61 food pantries, shelters, and community meal programs in 2020, which was an increase of 46% from 2019. Additional frozen items continued to be distributed throughout the winter months. Since inception in 2009, the RVGA Farm to Food Pantry program joined by Family of Woodstock and UlsterCorps volunteers has collected and distributed over 904,900 pounds of locally-grown produce to those in need in our community.
Thank you to all of our partner organizations, farmers, and community volunteers who make this program possible. Together we are strengthening our local food system and fight hunger by increasing access to healthy local foods in our community.