Mar 25, 2020

Growing Local Collaborative Increases Food Deliveries and Resources in NOLA Amid COVID-19 Outbreak


NEW ORLEANS, La., March 24, 2020 — Today, the various organizations that make up the Growing Local Collaborative – Recirculating Farms CoalitionTop Box Foods LouisianaSPROUT NOLANew Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee, and Liberty’s Kitchen – in partnership with Market Umbrella and the Crescent City Farmers Market, are ramping up efforts to keep New Orleans residents fed and healthy by organizing food distribution from farms to families and mapping important resources.

Connor DeLoach, Executive Director of Top Box Louisiana said, “It is even more important for people to have access to fresh food right now, as we all try to be healthy. That’s why we are working with our Growing Local Collaborative partners and Crescent City Farmers Market to bring fresh local food from Louisiana farms right to people’s homes.”

Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, farmers markets closed to reduce potential for social contact, but people still want fresh local food. Crescent City Farmers Market and SPROUT NOLA worked together to get their growers online – posting profiles about farmers on websites and selling products that normally would be at the markets through a box delivery program with Top Box Foods Louisiana. All the staging and packing is happening at Liberty’s Kitchen, which is currently suspending its other programs.

“Supporting our farmers is critical, so they are able to continue working and providing fresh food for us all,” said Margee Green, Executive Director of SPROUT NOLA and organizer of the Monday ReFresh Farmers Market. “We are making sure fresh food doesn’t go to waste, and it gets to people who want it, through RFC’s Growing Local box and the new Crescent City Farmers Market box.”

The Recirculating Farms Coalition runs Growing Local NOLA farms. Top Box has been delivering Local Garden Boxes for RFC for years, in neighborhoods with less access to fresh food, like Central City. The Growing Local boxes offers fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs and a fun “lagniappe” item for smaller families for $15. The new Crescent City Farmers Market Box is $40 and offers bigger portions. This box is comprised of goods from CCFM vendors and qualifies for their Market Match program. Both boxes accept SNAP.

“Emergencies, like this pandemic, illustrate why having a stable local food system is critical,” said Marianne Cufone, Executive Director for Recirculating Farms Coalition. “We are able to mobilize partners to offer fresh local food for a range of budgets and needs. We started our box to provide food in neighborhoods with low or no access to fresh, healthy options. Now, working with the CCFM farmers, we are expanding what we can offer – we doubled the number of boxes available this week!”

In addition to the boxes, the Collaborative is collecting information about other food resources in the city; NOLA FPAC is taking the lead. Their website lists assorted programs and has a map where children who usually have meals in schools can get grab and go food.

Elisa Munoz, Executive Director of NOLA FPAC said, “Food is a key part of who we are in New Orleans, and knowing where to access food can help us feel healthier and safer, both of which we need now. We want to offer a wide range of resources for our community.”

The American Heart Association of Greater New Orleans and The Humana Foundation are supporting these programs with grants to scale up operations and pay farmers for food.

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Our work is made possible by the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Humana Foundation.