Fresh Foods Initiative
An integral aspect of ARCafe is sourcing vegetables, fruit, meat, and dairy products from island and Maine farmers. ARCafe pays VH growers retail prices for their goods in order to ensure they are able to make a viable living farming.
The ARC supports VH growers by acting as a food hub, marketing and distributing their farm goods to consumers and other island retail establishments.
As a proviso of the Fresh Foods Initiative, The ARC regularly donates a large volume of local food (the value of 5 percent of all Local Foods Market produce sales – to date over $5,000) to members of the Vinalhaven Food Pantry (approximately 30 households). Additionally, ARCafé staff provide local foods menu development and meal-preparation assistance to the Vinalhaven School through our Local Lunch Program.
Through ARCafe, the Fresh Foods Initiative makes quality, fresh, local food accessible to all islanders regardless of income by accepting WIC and EBT and by hosting free and reduced-cost family and community meals. The Fresh Foods Initiative promotes
EBT and WIC purchasing through cooking classes and food-based activities to fixed- and low-income residents.
ARC staff are currently collaborating with Islands Community Medical Services (ICMS) to create a program similar to Wholesome Wave’s Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) Through this project, at-risk patients will learn simple, fun, and affordable ways to cook with fresh foods by attending ARCafé cooking classes and free family meals.
Additionally, they will increase their consumption of fresh produce by receiving coupons for free local fruits and vegetables at ARCafé Local Foods Market. The goal of this program is to gauge the effect fresh produce consumption has on patients' health conditions, particularly diabetes blood sugar levels; and to increase the number of WIC and EBT Local Foods Market patrons.
2012 Goals & Outcomes
Goal: distribute $4,000 worth of produce to at least 30 Vinalhaven families through the Vinalhaven Food Pantry
Outcome: approximately $1,500 worth distributed directly to food pantry; 30 family goal reached; additional $1,400 worth of produce distributed in the form of free meals through four at four separate events.
Notes: Total distributed $2,900, $1,100 below goal (Due to the fact that we didn't grow as much on the island in 2012 as we did in 2011. As well as the fact that we need to increase VH Ag Fund support in order to enable us to purchase more.)
Goal: help establish an ongoing local foods procurement plan for the Vinalhaven School, providing 140 students with a local foods lunch once a week during the school year
Outcome: Local Lunch Program established; once a week during the academic year middle school students cost, source, and prepare a local foods school lunch for 100-150 people (students and staff).
Notes: In 2012, students prepared 11 full meals and 7 salad bar meals using local ingredients, a total value of approximately $2,800.
Goal: help facilitate purchasing of local foods for at least three island organizations or retail establishments
Outcome: ARC has encouraged but not played an active facilitative roll (local foods currently available at two other retail stores and one other restaurant, plus the flea market, and through Sparkplug Farm’s CSA)
Goal: establish number of WIC and EBT transactions for local food – a baseline against which we can demonstrate increasing use year by year
Outcome: a challenge that we have not yet overcome; to date we have had NO WIC clientele and only one EBT customer; a new outreach plan needs to be developed and enacted before we decide to reassess
Goal: conduct meetings with island growers to help them plan and find necessary support (financial, access to land, technical assistance, etc.) for increasing their production of food
Outcome: not yet done; requires a dedicated staff person
Goal: continue to implement distribution opportunities that use local foods: prepared meals to go, community suppers, CSK box, catering, etc.
Outcome: need to increase number of community suppers this fall; did not have enough staff to pursue more than a few catering events this summer; more staff is needed to create additional value added food products
Goal: in partnership with ICMS offer at least three free and reduced-rate healthy local foods cooking classes and family meals to at-risk patients, EBT and WIC users, and Vinalhaven Food Pantry members
Outcome: writing collaborative proposal with ICMS to make this happen in 2013
VH Ag Fund
Goal: secure $5,000 for fund
Outcome: $4,430 raised, $1,016 earned from 5% fund (5% of all farmstand sales are used to purchase local farm goods for Food Pantry members)