Community Supported Agriculture and Food Stamps

An important part of the arguments I make in the book are about how poor people are denied access to food, even when they’re not being denied access to food.

Take, for instance, the food stamp programme in the United States, where 36 million people went hungry last year. Food stamps are designed to ensure that working families don’t run out of basic foodstuffs. Given the redlining of communities of poor people, supermarkets aren’t going to come in and provide fresh fruit and veg. But processed food giants are only too happy to offer product that can sit on the shelves of corner stores for months before they’re bought.

One group that has taken this on is Uprising Farm in Bellingham, Washington. They took an important step in demonstrating how farmers can sell to low income communities using a ‘CSA’ model. CSAs are usually ‘farm subscriptions’ – you pay in advance for a season’s food. But low income households neither have the money to afford the upfront costs, nor can their food stamps be allowed to pay for future deliveries of food.

By shifting their business model, Uprising Farm has made it possible for folk to use food stamps to pay for baskets of goods ‘over the counter’ – and it seems as if they’re going very strong indeed. Read more here.