Farms to Families/Fondo de Granjas a Familias began as an emergency initiative created by a partnership between REAP, Roots4Change, and Rooted in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program purchased fresh, healthy, locally grown food from regional family farms and small businesses and delivered it to Madison-area Latino/Indigenous residents and families hard-hit by job loss, food insecurity, lack of access to social services, and federal anti-immigration provisions. The initial Farms to Families project and Roots4Change helped support Latino/indigenous families through the crisis of COVID-19 with access to healthy, sustainable food, health resources, and housing assistance and through employment opportunities through Spring, 2021.
In Spring, 2022, Second Harvest of Southern Wisconsin awarded the partnership of Roots4Change Cooperative and REAP one of four grant projects that addressed food equity in the community. The $61,000 capacity building award supports our current collaborative Farm to Families “Resilience Box” program that highlights culturally meaningful food preparation, bolsters female and BIPOC food entrepreneurs, and creates a co-learning space centering cooking, breastfeeding, and food policy. The program is funded to run during the fall of 2022.
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Mariela Quesada Centeno, Roots4Change Cooperative Manager says, “Our Latino/Indigenous families are uniquely impacted by this crisis – they make up 40% of service workers in the county, and 94% of families with children fall below the poverty line.* Together with compounding factors, including lack of information, social isolation and fears surrounding immigration status, it makes it so that they are among the least likely to seek help from established food and support programs.”
Likewise, small farmers in our region, many of them young, female, and minority farmers, have seen their business impacted by the closure of farmers’ markets, institutions, and restaurants, and are struggling to break even.
“REAP and R4C see in this crisis an opportunity to respond in a way that benefits many.” states Helen Sarakinos, REAP Executive Director. “We are aiming to create maximum benefit for food-insecure neighbors who are the backbone of the food and service industry and for struggling farmers who serve our region.”
“The impact that this pandemic brought to our lives plus the lack of resources, started with lack of work. Without work we cannot get money for the food for our children and to pay rent and the bills. I am very grateful first with God, and with you for all the help you are giving us especially to bring the bread to our table. God bless you greatly.”