The quality of produce in the grocery store is just as much a reminder of winter as the current frigid temperatures. When I find myself shopping for groceries in January, my mind quickly wanders to memories of fresh springtime salad greens, juicy summer tomatoes and crisp, fleshy apples.
Growing up in Iowa – the heart of our nation’s food growing region – seasonal, fresh produce was never out of reach. The same cannot be said for those living in poverty in the Washington metro region. For those living in food deserts, access to produce is either inadequate or nonexistent.
Fresh produce is valuable for its nutritional qualities and can influence healthy eating behaviors. If you are a parent or have a finicky eater in your life, you may have recognized that because fresh, seasonal produce tastes better, it can help make fruit and vegetable converts out of the most vocal of veggie haters.
For low-income communities, fresh produce can trigger a change in thinking about food and help address the growing problem of diet-related illnesses.
The Capital Area Food Bank’s Fresh Produce Grant helps our partner agencies provide high-quality, local produce to their clients for a full farm season, providing nearly 40 different types of fruits and vegetables.
Fresh produce grantees in Maryland and D.C. pick-up produce bi-weekly from Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro, MD and Virginia grantees pick up Waterpenny produce weekly from the food bank’s Northern Virginia branch. As a part of the CAFB’s program, grantees are provided materials and support to educate their clients about the produce they receive.
The innovation and creativity of recipient partner agencies has resulted in clients feeling empowered to prepare new foods and partners experience a renewed sense of community around healthier offerings.
The application for the Fresh Produce Grant is now available online. Applications will be accepted until February 18 and grant recipients will be notified at the end of March. The fresh produce season begins in May and ends in November.