Well-balanced meals are an important part of maintaining optimal health; be it a leafy green salad or a handful of your favorite nuts and berries, there are many ways to incorporate complete nutrition into a busy lifestyle.
One way in which the Health Care Foundation associates chose to do this was to use community-supported agriculture (CSA). Through this service, associates were able to pay for a share of in-season vegetables that were delivered weekly to our office.
Kansas City’s network of CSA is vast and each organization offers a variety of items at a range of prices. Here are a few questions to consider when in the early stages of the decision-making process:
- What is the total cost? Before anything else, you must consider what you – or your organization – can afford to purchase. Some CSAs price their deliveries per pound of products, others price per share at a flat-rate for the entire season. However, the cost goes beyond the monetary value of the food items you would like to purchase; is pick-up required or is delivery available? Be realistic in your decision to ensure that it is the best fit for your organization.
- What is your ideal timeframe? To maximize your CSA selections and provision, it is best to begin researching early in the year. From month-to-month memberships to those which span the entire year, there will likely be an option to fit your needs.
- What type of food do you want? While the majority of CSA’s primarily offer produce, there are occasionally other options as well, such as eggs, pork, milk, and even live chickens! Another piece of the puzzle is whether or not the food is locally-sourced and/or certified organic. If these factors are important to you, then check individual websites for more specific information.
- What is the mission of the organization? If you care deeply about sustainable agriculture, then select a CSA with sustainable farming methods. Each CSA has a purpose and a vision for their community, so I encourage you to choose a provider whose values align with those of your organization.
In 2015, Health Forward partnered with New Roots for Refugees, and over half of our associates chose to participate. The cost was $300 per share, which provided approximately seven items per week for 18 weeks total.
New Roots for Refugees’ produce is locally-sourced, which was also important to us as a Foundation. In this symbiotic relationship the farmers in the New Roots network are able to expand their customer base into a reliable market; likewise, the customers build long-term relationships with local growers for mutual benefit. Health Forward was proud to support New Roots as well because the organization aids refugees in developing business skills, introduces them to English-speakers, and facilitate beneficial and long-lasting relationships.
One fun component of joining the CSA was the opportunity to share recipes among associates. We look forward to participating in a CSA again this year and hope that this has shed some light on a valuable opportunity for community members and farmers alike.