Farm-to-Table Delivery Boxes Enhance Domestic Food Security
by Evan DeMarco on Oct 25, 2022
According to the USDA, over 34 million people in America are food insecure—meaning they don’t always have access to food, whether because of funds, transportation, location or other reasons. That’s a staggering number of people, especially in what’s considered one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
As part of their goal to feed hungry Americans, the USDA implemented a Farms to Families Food Box program from 2020 to 2021. It delivered over 157 million boxes of fresh produce, dairy and cooked meat to families in need. While the program has ended, fresh produce boxes will still be delivered as part of the Emergency Food Assistance Program.
Even people who don’t qualify as “food insecure” or low-income can benefit from farm-to-table delivery boxes, however. Here’s a look at how patronizing local farms can help us all eat better.
Understanding food deserts and other barriers to healthy food
Food deserts aren’t actual deserts, like the Mojave or Sahara. They’re places where there are very few convenient and affordable ways to get food on a regular basis. This is most common in areas where there are smaller populations, lots of vacant homes and lower incomes, lower education levels and higher unemployment.
Food deserts also depend on other factors, such as how many stores are around, how well they’re stocked, whether residents have transportation to get there and the average household income. These barriers to food access can leave people living off whatever can be shipped or delivered to their homes, if available.
Community supported agriculture and other solutions
One solution to food deserts—at least in areas where food can be grown—are community supported agriculture boxes. These programs allow people to sign up for a “share” of a farm each year, whether they’re purchasing a share of a processed cow, dairy products or produce. In turn, the farms are able to reliably sell their food to local residents, guaranteeing profits and cutting down on the distance food travels to the table. If you live near farms offering CSA subscriptions, this is a great environmental, economic and nutritional choice.
Unfortunately, not everyone lives near farms, whether they live in actual deserts or otherwise unsuitable areas. While the USDA’s Farms to Families and Emergency Food Assistance Program can help low-income families access better food, there are other solutions for people in comfortable circumstances.
Over the last few years, farm-to-table delivery boxes have become popular nationwide. Providers like Farm Fresh to You, Imperfect Produce and Fresh Direct deliver all over the United States. Generally, companies contract with farms and food suppliers within a certain radius. Some companies automatically pick your produce for you (like a traditional CSA), while others allow you to pick and choose which items you want. Some even offer dairy, pantry staples, meat and more. The company delivers straight to the customer’s door, whether through local delivery services or overnight shipping. These solutions make it easier for the elderly, people with disabilities and people who simply don’t have time to shop to access healthier foods.
Benefits of farm-to-table delivery options
Farm-to-table delivery, whether through the USDA, a local farm or a commercial supplier, offers several excellent benefits. First, when you support local farms—directly or indirectly—you’re enabling them to continue operations. That supports the local community and encourages further growth.
Second, improving access to better food from local suppliers isn’t just good for nutrition. It also helps cut down on your carbon footprint. The produce in grocery stores often travels thousands of miles before it lands at your local Piggly Wiggly. Keeping it local, even within a single state, makes a big difference.
Finally, eating farm-to-table helps cut down on food waste. Every year, millions of pounds of food are thrown out. That includes food which was imported at significant cost to the environment. Regular deliveries of healthy foods are especially good for people who only get to the grocery store once or twice a month: they don’t have to stock up on perishables and risk them going bad before it can be eaten.
Food insecurity is a big problem in America, and many people suffer without quality nutrition. Whether you have food access issues in your area, or you simply want an environmentally, economically friendly solution to finding diverse fresh produce, give a farm-to-table delivery option a try. You might just find your new favorite vegetable.