Farm to Families is an initiative that provides boxes of fresh produce to the families of North Philadelphia. Now under the St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, the program brings high quality and organic food to people who would otherwise have limited access to such items.
Each week, Farm to Families receives boxes of produce from farms in Lancaster County. They work with local farmers and the Amish community to grow and distribute different crops. This allows the participants to try different foods they’ve never tasted before and ensures all of the food is fresh.
Farm to families also provides recipes to its members, which is useful for those seeking to create a new dish. According to Tariem Burroughs, a Community Engagement Specialist, sweet potatoes, potatoes, bananas, collard greens and scallions are the main ingredients of the season.
The boxes come in two sizes: large and small. A small box is priced at $14.00 and a large box is $18.00; however, there are subsidies for qualified families, which brings the prices down to $10.00 for a small and $15.00 for a large.
Farm to Families is unique because they also employ an Rx program where patients with a medical prescription can receive the ingredients at an even lower cost, making small and large boxes $5.00 and $10.00 respectively. This is to ensure that the people who need the health benefits of the program the most receive it.
According to Naida Burgos, a Community Engagement Coordinator at Temple University Hospital, Farm to Families stands out because it provides fresh produce at a low cost. “By the time people are able to afford vegetables [at grocery stores], it’s because they’ve been sitting on the stands for a long time,” Burgos said. That, in conjunction with the various food deserts throughout the city of Philadelphia, can make it hard for residents to access the ingredients they need.
Everyone is eligible to use this service. Bianca Niggli said that they are able to reach more people at their current location, the Tioga Lobby at Temple University Hospital. Anyone who stops by can sign up for the program and receive their box the next week.
Farm to Families serves many students and employees affiliated with Temple University, along with physicians from the hospital and residents of the area. It’s becoming increasingly popular among members, and the numbers fluctuate depending on the season. “We have roughly 20 to 30 orders a week for boxes,” Niggli said. “In the summer, we have days where we go as high as 60.”
The program is run on a week to week basis, and there is no long term commitment for ordering boxes. This allows participants to test out the service without dedicating themselves to it. People walking past the table during distribution days can simply fill out an application and receive their box the next week.
Farm to Families has locations at the New Kensington DC Garden Center, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, St. Mary Medical Center, Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th street Family Health Services of Drexel University, and the Temple University Hospital. All of these sites serve different members, but they work together to ensure fresh produce is delivered on time.
Not all of the ingredients in the box appeal to members, so Farm to Families allows them to swap out certain items for ones they find more suitable.
Boxes must be ordered a week in advance, and those that aren’t picked up get donated to local organizations.
Farm to Families accepts a variety of payment methods, including cash, credit, debit and food stamps, making it easily accessible to many. The hope is to continue providing quality ingredients to those who need it.
You can learn more about Farm to Families here.
by Pariss Briggs and Jada Davis