A local nonprofit that has developed a system for giving communities control to fund the kinds of large-scale projects that typically require involvement of the government or big business, has launched a pilot program that aims to fight hunger throughout the Pioneer Valley.
“Ending hunger and poverty in the Pioneer Valley and elsewhere is the original inspiration behind the Common Good system,” said Executive Director William Spademan.
The Food Fund is meant to address the paradox of a region built on rich farmland and a thriving community of food growers and artisan food makers that also sees one-in-eight people facing hunger daily.
Even here in the Pioneer Valley, with our abundance of fertile fields and rich farmlands, one in eight people are at risk of hunger. It might feel like the causes of hunger and policies that seek to address food insecurity are out of our hands, controlled by remote government bodies and complex markets.
But we asked ourselves, what if those of us in the Valley who are food secure could provide more direct assistance to those of us who aren’t? And what if those of us in the Valley who need such assistance choose to access it? It’s a simple, direct, and local approach.
Together with the team at Simple Gifts Farm, Common Good is launching a pilot project called the Food Fund that hopes to do exactly that. The Food Fund is an experiment in community, to test whether providing support at the local level can help to alleviate food insecurity for our neighbors.
This week something new happened at Equity Trust, the organization where I work. Our revolving loan fund, which for 27 years has enabled lenders and donors interested in economic justice to make investments with positive social impacts, received its first loan through the Common Good payment system. We now join a growing network of businesses and individuals in the Pioneer Valley that are strengthening our local economy through a form of mutual credit.
The benefits of buying from local businesses are well documented, if still not embraced broadly enough or supported by our political system. Compared to corporate chains, a larger portion of the money spent at local businesses recycles through the community, with multiplying benefits, due to the purchases made by those businesses. Continue reading “Buy Local with Local Credit”→
Grow Food Northampton is still growing, with no signs of stopping.
For the past few years, the nonprofit that provides fresh, local produce to low-income community members has seen a steady rise in participation for its programs, and a recent $50,000 grant from the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation has allowed for even more room to grow.
All Things Local Cooperative Market is an experiment in local food democracy. Whenever I mention the co-op to friends, I get a smile and a nodding reassurance that they truly believe this little store is an important step toward a more sustainable way of living. But when I ask if they are members….. well, most say something like “yes, I should join…… but (fill in the blank).” A co-op relies on membership to be successful!
Here is a message from the managers at ATL from the most recent newsletter.
All Things Local Cooperative Market provides a vibrant place to embrace community – buying and selling food and art, sharing treats and ideas as we create a more local economy. It is a bold experiment in sustainability! We have celebrated a year and a half in business and we have, as of this date, distributed over a half million in payments to our local producers.
We are grateful to you, our members, our community, because your membership dollars go so far to help us provide a space to make this venture possible. Your membership allows us to return 70% to our producers, allowing them to earn and pay their employees a livable wage. Membership at ATL costs you only 14 cents per day! One person paying 14 cents per day certainly couldn’t maintain a storefront in downtown Amherst, which is why we are asking all of you, our community, to renew your membership or make an additional contribution now to keep the vision of ATL possible!
Memberships are a major factor in ATL’s success, and I ask that you kindly visit the website to renew, or stop by the shop and renew in person.
The first few years of any venture are vulnerable, and I hope you will continue your support of our growth and improvement through membership, volunteering, and of course, shopping!