The Locavore Food Shelf

| 7/15/2011 4:50:17 PM


Is eating locally just another status symbol? Get together with certain members of the locavore movement, and you’ll hear conversations about the cost of CSAs and the cost of timeshares, rare heirloom seeds and rare art acquisitions. Troll the aisles of your neighborhood co-op grocery, and you’ll find a strange financial homogeneity in much of the clientele: These are people who can afford a five-dollar pint of strawberries.

Slowly, though, the local food movement is inching toward inclusion. In 20 states, some farmers markets offer double vouchers to folks enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). And now, progressive food shelves are stocking local food.

The Hallie Q. Brown Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, aims to provide the poor with access to the best farm-raised local produce by spearheading a local foods drive that spans this year’s growing season. According to the center, in 2011 they have already given out more than 58,000 pounds of food—much of it local.

The center partners with small farmers who make donations based on what is in season and, often, what is in surplus. Most donators are happy to contribute to a cause that is good for the community and prevents their beloved produce from going to waste. So far this year, the food shelf has received a bounty of fresh, local fruits and veggies—mixed greens, rhubarb, radishes, broccoli, beets, green beans, and more.

Each month 700–800 clients—about half of which are African American and a significant number are immigrants—benefit from the food shelf. “There is some justice in the stereotype of the local foods movement as predominantly white and affluent,” says food shelf development coordinator Josh Grinolds in an email. “Access and information go hand in hand with means and wealth. Many of the clients we serve are trying to simply have access to food, period.”

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