Authors: Shamar Bibbins
On Wednesday, March 28th, Green For All hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill to discuss how innovative food systems can address food insecurity for vulnerable communities, while creating jobs and increasing farmer income.
The briefing, which was co-hosted by Fair Food Network and Wholesome Wave, focused on the economic and health benefits of linking rural farmers with urban communities, and how key provisions in the Farm Bill can retain and expand these opportunities.
Green For All Fellow, Zoe Hollomon, of the Massachusetts Avenue Project in Buffalo, NY, did an outstanding job on the panel. Zoe discussed the innovative work at MAP, and how their social enterprise is tapping into one of NY State's most prosperous industries - agriculture - to help create healthier food options for Buffalo's most impoverished communities. Zoe also discussed how two Community Food Project Grants were instrumental in scaling up some of MAP's most innovative initiatives from pilot project to full scale programs.
Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA) addressing the audience
Other speakers included, Case Visser of Visser Farms in Michigan, who discussed the Double-Up Food Bucks program that connects SNAP families in Michigan with local farmers, increasing farmer sales income and incentivizing healthy eating habits; Jeff Cole, a Massachusetts farmer and Executive Director of Massachusetts Farmers Market, who highlighted Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program that links community members at-risk for diet-related diseases to farmers, through their local health clinics; and Robert Lazaro, Community Affairs Executive of INOVA Health System in Northern Virginia, which developed the “Buy Local, Buy Fresh” program that encourages shopping at farmers markets to improve health and reduce costs for the healthcare company. Representatives, Jim McGovern (D-MA), John Dingell (D-MI), Steve Southerland (R-FL), and one of our favorite Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH), helped facilitate the event.
From left to right – Farmer Jeff Cole, Robert Lazaro of INOVA, Farmer Case Visser and Zoe Hollomon