Saturday, August 9, 2008

Helping the Poor Find Access to Farmer's Markets

A couple of days ago there was quite a discussion over on Crunchy Chicken's blog about the effects of rising food prices on the economy in general. One of the things I like about this blog is that she throws out topics for discussion and just let's people run with it. I have to admit I climbed up on my soapbox over there, because there were some commenters who thought anything that drove people to think about raising more of their own food, or otherwise disconnecting from Big Ag might be a good thing. And in some ways they are right. Where I got distressed was the assumption that everyone was going to be able to do this easily and successfully. My biggest concern was for people who simply don't have the resources to do that.

Interestingly, the very next day our local newspaper ran a story on the difficulty poorer families have in accessing things like farmer's markets, and how the local public health department is seeking ways to solve that problem. I thought some of you might be interested. It is revealing to read what exactly the issues were for these families.


Eve said...

I see this here with the high gas prices. Even if they have the transportation, doesn't mean they can afford gas to go half way across town. I guess we need to work on a grass roots level to change this because the rich congressmen who pass laws for the poor, have never understood the problems they have.

Joyce said...

Right, Eve. These organizations are functioning at the county level. They know their people. The Public Health District works with under-resourced people all the time, and Provena Covenant Hospital is a Catholic hospital with a strong outreach to the poor. I like the fact that they are partnering with whoever they can around here to make sure people get what they need.
As for gas prices, if they can get all their services in one place, that's a real advantage to people who are having trouble with gas prices. But the PHD offices are also on the bus route, so they have that option, too.
It's worth noting, too, that one problem is that people don't always have the sort of job that gives them weekends off. In our twon, the farmer's markets are on Saturday mornings.

Rose said...

Thanks for sharing this, Joyce; I missed this article in the paper. This is an excellent idea to help those in need. Some members of our church used to participate in another program called "Plant an Extra Row," or PAER, where they could donate extra produce to be given to those in need. I never participated because I didn't have a vegetable garden for a long time, but I think it's still going on.

As you say, giving the needy coupons for the farmers' markets doesn't help much if they have no way of getting there.

Joyce said...

Rose, I've had friends who did the PAER program. I don't remember how the food was distributed.
Just a couple of days ago there were some women preparing for a delivery from our church's hunger pantry, and they were adding in some fresh tomatoes from someone's garden. When I read the article, it made me wonder if Provena would let us get some of their corn to deliver, too.

Going Crunchy said...

Hum, I'll have to go check it out! Shan

Bugs and Brooms said...

I read Crunchy's post too as well as the many comments. I was really distrubed at some of the thoughts out there! Honestly, I was concerned that so many people saw rising food prices as a positive thing. It really makes me wonder why there is such a disconnect between people in our country. There was another post about rising gas prices that brought similar comments. Granted, I do see that rising gas prices and food prices make many people rethink their lifestyles but it doesn't appear to me that many folks are thinking about those less fortunate who are truly living paycheck to paycheck and wonder where their next meal will even come from. I hope more articles like this will be published so that others will realize what a hardship price increases will be for many people.

Green Bean said...

Great post and thank you for the article. I was going to write an entire blog post about this after reading yours but . . . I got tired. Maybe I will because I think it is an important topic to discuss.

As to the gas, my take is that higher gas prices are good. I know it hurts but 6 mos of high gas prices have done what 30 years of environmental advertising and education could not - get people into more fuel efficient cars or on to their bikes.

As to the food, it obviously is a tougher question. With higher prices for food, most people will turn to lower quality food because it is what they can afford. What choice do they have? That is why the article you point to is so important. Now is the time for us to pivot, to put together programs, to reach out and develop urban gardens and programs that improve access to healthful, whole foods.

Thank you for making us think, as always.

Joyce said...

I do know people who are living paycheck to paycheck, and not because they are poor money-managers, but because really don't make enough money to get ahead. We lived that way ourselves for a few years when we first got married, and there was high inflation at that time, too. It's very hard. I don't what we can say that will help people understand how trying this can be for a young couple, or someone on a fixed income. I guess I just hope that people who have enough will take the time to share.