Grandparents and Other Seniors May Be Cut From Senior FarmShare Program
Philip Korman, CISA Executive Director in South Deerfield, MA writes:
State cutbacks threaten Farm shares that feed low-income seniors
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA), through its Senior FarmShare Program, has been offering free shares of the harvest to low-income seniors since 2004. The program is now at risk of being eliminated unless the Massachusetts Senate includes it in their budget.
Every year, over 300 low-income seniors receive fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms during the height of the harvest season. For many of the elders, it is their only source of fresh produce. Since approximately 10% of seniors in the three counties (Franklin, Hampshire and Hamden) live below the poverty line, this program has helped close the gap for a part of the population that is most in need.
During this fiscal year, the state funds provided to CISA were cut from $50,000 to $25,000. As a result, the number of seniors receiving shares declined 10% and the amount of food delivered was cut 25%. For the upcoming fiscal year 2010, the Governor’s Budget did not include funds for the program, but the House restored funding at the $50,000 level. Unfortunately, the initial Senate budget (released Wednesday by the Senate Ways and Means) did not include any funds in its budget.
“This program fulfills a vital need and deepens bonds between our farmers and those most vulnerable in our community”, stated Philip Korman, Executive Director of CISA. He added that, “In the past we have been able to supplement the state funds with generous giving from churches, foundations and businesses such as Xeric Foundation, the Citizens Bank Foundation, Chicopee Savings Bank and Whole Foods. Sadly, we do not see how we can run the program next year without any state support.”
CISA is asking the community to contact their Massachusetts legislators to thank them for their past support and to request their state senators match the House budget and fully fund the program in fiscal year 2010. Contact information for legislators is available at CISA’s website www.buylocalfood.org. CISA also welcomes businesses and the community to make donations.
CISA is a nationally recognized organization comprised of farmers, institutions and residents working together to strengthen local agriculture by building connections between farmers and the community.
More information about CISA can be found at www.buylocalfood.org or call 413-665-7100.