The Cheshire County Conservation District (CCCD), and its partner, Monadnock Farm and Community Coalition (MFCC) — partners of Healthy Monadnock working on strategies to increase access to healthy local food — has been awarded two grants by the Healthy New Hampshire Foundation (HNH Foundation). The Foundation, in existence since 1997, operates exclusively for charitable purposes to improve the health and wellness of New Hampshire’s population with a focus on its most vulnerable children.
GRANT 1: Food Security for Winchester, N.H.
The first grant was awarded to CCCD for a project that aims to reduce food insecurity in the town of Winchester, New Hampshire. The $17,380 grant will focus on building capacity of businesses, farms, service organizations, and community and faith groups to increase food access for town residents, said Amanda J.C. Littleton, district manager for the Cheshire County Conservation District.
The grant will also allow MFCC to bring together stakeholders for a community celebration in April that will focus on healthy food access and education, as well as offer CSA shares from Winchester-based Picadilly Farm to food stamp eligible customers utilizing the SNAP and Granite State Market Match; and establishing a relationship between the Conservation District and the Winchester Farmers’ Market that will result in a plan for accepting EBT and the Market Match Program.
The reason for concentrating on Winchester as a recipient of the benefits of the grant is multifold, noted Littleton.
“Winchester has a large low-income population, and high level of readiness,” she said. “There is already a farmers’ market established, and CSA that already accepts EBT.”
GRANT 2: Help for Food Security for Region
The second grant awarded will research and create a baseline of all the farms, farmers’ markets, and CSA farms in the region that accept SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). “The goal is to develop and administer a survey to farms in Cheshire County to better understand which sites are accepting EBT cards (Electronic Benefits Transfer) that allow benefit recipients to receive money through a payment card. The grant will allow CCCD to reach out to farmers who are currently not accepting SNAP benefits and offer support for them to obtain an EBT machine. The $17,600 grant will also go toward increasing the “Farm to Family Buying Club” of Keene Housing and Monadnock Menus by 100 percent this year, added Littleton. The program, which allows low-income people to purchase produce, meat and other food from local farmers at wholesale prices and have it delivered to Keene Housing locations for the elderly, will expand to include low income family units throughout Keene, said Littleton.
“We will use the money to do outreach and support to families who are interested in purchasing local food through the Farm to Family buying club,” said Littleton.
The grant will also allow CCCD to create a workshop for social service agency staff to increase local awareness of food access opportunities for their clients.
“The goal of this grant ultimately is twofold: To help those in the region who need access to healthy food, and also to help our region’s farmers,” added Littleton. “It is an important mission of Cheshire County Conservation District and its project, MFCC, to create new markets for our region’s farmers in order for them to remain viable and thrive.”