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December 15, 2023 Leanne Hoppe 1.5 min read

CVCOA and Nutrition Programs Offer Free CSA Shares to Older Adults

Central Vermont Council on Aging (CVCOA) partnered with nutrition program sites to deliver Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce shares to 220 clients across Central Vermont this past summer.  

Using $30,000 in funds from the Congressionally Directed Funding Grant from the federal Administration of Community Living (ACL) through Bernie Sanders’ office, CVCOA was able to purchase 43 CSA shares from 4 different farms to serve clients at Meals on Wheels of Lamoille County, Northfield Senior Center, South Royalton Senior Center, and Twin Valley Senior Center. Clients received manageable portions of these weekly harvests along with recipes for how to prepare and use the produce. In September, utilizing grant funds from the Vermont Foodbank, CVCOA purchased additional CSA shares for Montpelier Senior Activity Center’s FEAST Farmstand program to make up for flood losses the farm suffered. 

CVCOA’s Director of Nutrition and Wellness Kim Lipinski said, “With this partnership, older adults in our community have the opportunity to savor the flavors of locally sourced, garden-fresh produce. At the same time, local farms can breathe easier, knowing their crops will find a welcoming home while enhancing the nutrition and quality of life for older adults in the community.” 

The partnership allowed older adults to receive freshly picked, local fruits and vegetables along with their Meals on Wheels delivery and allowed the farms to supplement their growing budget and distribute their harvested items right away, without worrying about how or where to sell them. Large CSA shares typically feed a family of four, which can be overwhelming for smaller households that may struggle to use everything included in the delivery. By dividing shares into smaller portions, more people were able to participate in the program and more likely to report a positive experience. 

CVCOA hopes to expand the program in 2024 to more clients. South Royalton Senior Center Director Sue Pirie said, “Everyone who received the produce/fruits was very happy to receive fresh items. . . they would not have been able to get fresh food due to limited funds.” 

CSA programs provide farms with a sustainable source of income. Shares purchased at the beginning of the growing season entitle the purchaser to a weekly distribution of the farm’s harvest. The participating farms were Foote Brook Farm, Glinnis Hill Farm, Good Heart Farm, and Luna Bleu Farm.