By Francie Lin, GFN Writer-in-Residence I think everyone would rather forget the early pandemic days…
The Red Bag Senior Share offers affordable farm shares to low-income senior citizens. Last year, 70 Northampton residents participated in the Red Bag Senior Share (formerly known as the Senior FarmShare), and this year we are expanding the program to 80 participants AND opening up the program for up to 10 non-Northampton residents!
Participants receive a weekly bag of freshly harvested vegetables with a value of over $12 per week for just $1 per week! The vegetables are grown at Crimson & Clover Farm in Florence and each bag averages about 5 pounds with 4 to 6 seasonal items. Shares will be available for pickup on Wednesdays, 3-4pm, at the Northampton Senior Center starting July 5, 2017.
Two sign-up options will be available this year. The first will run 10 weeks, until September 6, and requires a $10 cash payment at the time of registration. It is open to all seniors who: receive fuel assistance, SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, SSI, AFDC, welfare, or veterans aid; participate in the Food Bank’s Brown Bag Program; live alone and have income below $22,980; or have combined income with a spouse/partner that is below $31,020.
The second will run 15 weeks, until October 11th, and is open only to those who participate in the SNAP program. A new statewide Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) is helping SNAP participants to afford more locally grown fruits and vegetables that come straight from the farm. By agreeing to have $16 per month of their SNAP benefits paid to the farm directly, participants will get a 15-week farm share at no cost, because the HIP program will immediately and automatically reimburse the $16 to their SNAP accounts!
The program is operated and paid for by Grow Food Northampton in collaboration with Crimson & Clover Farm and the Northampton Senior Center (and their fantastic volunteers!), with financial support from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation. CISA also operates a Senior FarmShare program in other communities in the Pioneer Valley.
Application deadline: June 2, 2016. The $10.00 Fee (CASH ONLY) for the 10-week program must accompany the application. There is no up-front fee for the 15-week SNAP share, but an additional form providing SNAP enrollment information must be filled out and signed. Grow Food Northampton expects to enroll all applicants, but reserves the right to limit participation to the first 80, and to limit enrollment of non-Northampton residents to 10.
Application forms are available now here! Please give this form to Michele Dihlmann at the Senior Center.
If you are paying with SNAP, you also need to fill out this Membership Agreement form. Please send this form to Michael at Grow Food Northampton (221 Pine St, Suite 349 | Florence MA 01062).
For questions, contact Michele Dihlmann of the Senior Center at 413-587-1228 or Grow Food Northampton at 413-320-4799 x104.