Pottstown Hospital - Tower Health partnered with GreenAllies, a local organization that empowers students and works with them to create a more sustainable future, to develop a 100 percent subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for community members. The program, Youth Grow CSA, was established to help address access to healthy food; a top priority in the community which was identified through the completion of the hospital’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment.
“One of the biggest barriers to healthy food is the price,” said Pottstown Hospital Community Wellness Program Manager Casey Fenoglio. “To achieve a true 100 percent subsidized CSA, we knew we needed to partner with the right organization that shared our vision in getting produce to the families who need it most. GreenAllies is that organization for us.”
In 2018, Upper Pottsgrove Township provided GreenAllies with just over an acre of land. With that land, and a grant from the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation, the organization developed a student-run organic farm. With funding from Pottstown Hospital, GreenAllies was able to purchase additional farm equipment, supplies, and fund a student internship to help expand the farm for the CSA program.
"GreenAllies strongly believes that the health and well-being of a community depends on a sustainable, local food system," said GreenAllies Executive Director Ken Hamilton. "The Youth Grow CSA partnership with Pottstown Hospital provides us a unique opportunity to participate in this goal while demonstrating to youth that they can be the drivers of change in their community."
Youth Grow CSA runs from July through October on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. The produce is harvested in the morning by GreenAllies’ student farm managers and volunteers, and then bagged into individual shares. Pottstown Hospital and GreenAllies work together to drop the CSA bags off at three locations: Daniel Boone High School, Boyertown Area Multi-Service, and the Pottstown Cluster of Religious Communities. Shareholders can then pick up their produce bags at the location closest to them and enjoy fresh, organic produce.
"It’s a great learning experience for those of us working on the farm and it also gives us a chance to do something meaningful at such a young age," said GreenAllies Student Volunteer Claudia Dolan.
Youth Grow CSA is in a pilot phase and currently has 25 shares which provides more than 100 individuals with produce. The program anticipates providing more than 1,000 pounds of produce between July and October.
"We can also customize shares based on preference, allergies, and number of people in the household," said Fenoglio. "The program not only provides free produce, but also recipes and instructions for preparing the produce each week."
This program is just one strategy the hospital is implementing to address the food-related needs of the community.
"As the first CSA season continues, we are looking for ways to not only strengthen the program in 2021, but also looking for opportunities to expand the program to include more shares as well," said Fenoglio.
About Pottstown Hospital
Located in Pottstown, Pa., and a member of Tower Health, Pottstown Hospital is a 232-bed hospital that offers a full range of health services, including inpatient and outpatient, medical and surgical, and diagnostic and emergency care. Pottstown Hospital is accredited by The Joint Commission and has been recognized for its quality outcomes and clinical expertise across many service lines. Its cancer program is nationally recognized. The hospital also is a Primary Stroke Center; Joint Commission-certified for hip and knee replacement; and Heart Failure and Chest Pain certified. Its Emergency Room, which is second busiest in Montgomery County, sees more than 45,000 patients a year. For more information, visit towerhealth.org/locations/pottstown-hospital.