Access to Healthy Food
Members of our community who experience hunger are also more likely to have limited access to healthy foods. Limited access to healthy foods leads to poor health effects such as unhealthy diet, higher levels of obesity, and higher instances of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. We farm and donate fruits and vegetables so everyone has the healthy option.
Our farms are classrooms where lessons come to life. We seek to give everyone a better understanding of where their food comes from, why fruits and vegetables are important to our bodies, and how we all can build a healthier community.
Sprouting Minds programs are not just for schools, but can be tailored for preK-12 groups of any size looking for an educational experience. Programs run 1-2 hours (depending on age of participants) and includes a customized mix of activities relating to the season, usually including a farm tour, vegetable tasting and each student planting a plant to take home. All programming costs $10/participant, with some scholarship funding available for qualifying programs. We also visit classrooms to provide lessons on nutrition, agriculture, and hunger relief for a per classroom fee that depends on the scope of the activity. To learn more and schedule a Sprouting Minds visit for your group email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Winter, Spring, and Summer programs for 2nd-8th graders to explore, grow, and learn.
Winter on the Farm and Spring on the Farm take place during school vacation weeks and are daily programs emphasizing hands on cooking and nutrition, healthy meal planning, science experiments, nature crafts, container planting, and active games, all of which will be different every day!
Summer on the Farm is a week-long camp in August. Besides the great experience of daily harvesting, the children learn about the habitats surrounding the farm, the best ways to plant and tend to their own vegetables, food groups, cook basic recipes, discover the science behind gardening and cooking, get creative with art projects and are plenty active!
Visit our camp page to sign up!
Farm to Health Initiative: Food as medicine
The Farm to Health Initiative has evolved into a collective of partnerships working with Community Harvest Project to improve consumption of healthy foods among food-insecure populations to ultimately improve the population’s health. Programs are specifically tailored to each target population, but all programs include education, consistent distributions of free fresh fruits and vegetables, and evaluation of participants before and after participating in the program.
2016 Partners include:
Family Health Center of Worcester (Worcester)
Hector Reyes House (Worcester)
The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden (Harvard)
For more information about the Farm to Health Center Initiative, please contact Alicia Cianciola at email@example.com.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation is generously supporting the improvement and growth of the Farm to Health Initiative over the next 3 years. We are grateful to them for their support!!
Why is food insecurity a health concern?
Food insecurity has been linked with a large number of common but serious negative health outcomes.
Food insecure adults, when compared to their food secure counterparts:
- Are twice as likely to be in fair or poor health
- Have a greater risk of developing diabetes or heart disease
- Are three times as likely to report symptoms of depression
In children, food insecurity is linked with higher rates of:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Stomach aches and headaches
- Behavioral problems, including anxiety, aggression, hyperactivity, and poor school performance
How did the Farm to Health Initiative Start?
In 2013 we were approached by UMASS Medical students Rachel Erdil, Kathryn Bailey and Elizabeth Rosen about working with them to create a model like the Preventative Pantry developed by Boston Medical Center. BMC’s Preventative Pantry validates the connection between health and access to healthy foods, and the hospital has made it a priority to screen all patients for food insecurity and offer support services on site to patients in need.
In 2014, we partnered with Family Health Center of Worcester to pilot a volunteer-run free produce distribution on site. Patients were screened for baseline data including produce preferences (above) and the prevalence of food insecurity. The top two reasons patients reported for not including more produce in their diets were 1) high cost and 2) not liking fruits and vegetables, emphasizing an opportunity for exposure to healthfully prepared foods through tastings and education alongside the free distribution. In 2015, the program evolved to include a screening and enrollment process, recipe tastings, and health center patients serving as incredible volunteers. The program delivered about 10 lbs of produce per household per week for 9 weeks to between 100 and 150 patients per week – or 13,466 lbs total in 2015. We are so grateful to all of the volunteers who helped make these two years happen – we have learned so much through them and are working to use those lessons to improve the program for the future.