Food Sovereignty

Nourishing Community, Creating Opportunities

Our work to feed our community goes beyond food donations alone to empowering community members to grow their own food and to have a say in what, how, and where it is grown.

Why Food Sovereignty Matters

Food bank usage in the New York Capital Region has surged by a staggering 300% to 400% above pre-pandemic levels. As inflation sends gas and food prices skyrocketing, these organizations find themselves stretched thin, grappling with the harsh reality of trying to feed more families with fewer resources in 2023. The Adirondack Health Institute's data indicate that an additional $11 million in funding for Saratoga County is required to bridge the gap in local hunger needs. An additional 27% of households in Saratoga County are estimated to not qualify for traditional food assistance, but are so asset-limited the United Way has determined they cannot reliably meet their basic food or housing needs. BIPOC, disabled, and veteran citizens are overrepresented in Saratoga’s food insecure demographic, which is just another way that these underserved communities experience compounded equity and opportunity consequences. 

The resilience of the local food system and access to fresh, whole foods directly impact health, economic prospects, and educational outcomes across a lifetime. Pitney Meadows is committed to addressing this imperative through three pivotal programs:

 

1. Produce Donations and Cooking Classes: Cultivating Nutrient-Rich Futures

 

Our produce donation program partners with over a dozen regional food pantries and community centers, providing roughly over 90,000 servings of fresh, nutrient-dense produce to an estimated 4,000 individuals across the county annually. With an approximate value of $75,000, these donations demonstrated the Farm’s commitment to addressing food insecurity in the county. Additionally, the farm offers participatory cooking classes both at the farm and off-site at our food security partner organizations. So far, over 120 individuals have attended these classes run by a local chef.

 “This year, through partnerships with organizations like Pitney Meadows, we’ve been able to provide fresh produce with every meal package. Pitney has also allowed us to distribute a greater variety of produce. Participants were really excited to be able to try new types of  produce, incorporate new recipes, and introduce it to their families for the first time.”

—Angelo S. Calbone, LifeWorks Community Services Program Director

 

2. Nutrition Rx Program: Healing Through Fresh Nutrition

 

In partnership with the Saratoga Community Health Center, the Nutrition Prescription program is a lifeline for many facing food insecurity. It provides patients with essential nutritional knowledge and access to our locally grown, nutrient-dense vegetables.

 

"I am on food stamps and can't get a lot of vegetables, so this means a lot to me and my health."

-Nutrition Rx Client

 

While the participants come from a variety of backgrounds and have different medical diagnoses, many share one common denominator—food insecurity. For many, this program is their only source of fresh vegetables. Participants receive easy-to-use recipes that use the vegetables, as well as the nutrition information for each vegetable. The produce is also incorporated into the weekly discussions. Many participants live alone and often share their produce with others. They also share their experiences using and storing the vegetables each week.

Nutrition Rx has not only been an additional avenue of support for participants, it also has improved the various medical conditions the participants have. Data is collected to track participants’ BMI, HbA1c, LDL, blood pressure levels, and readiness to change.

 

“The nutrition class has been incredible with the vegetables from Pitney Farms! It has helped me with major lifestyle changes. I am no cook but the recipes they teach is include the fresh produce and are so worth the effort. They taste incredible! I made stuffed peppers and was able to freeze them to stretch my food budget. I had never heard of ground cherries before this class and made my first stir fry with Tokyo bekana this week! I will be much more adventurous with vegetables moving forward and have lost 50lbs so far!”

- Nutrition Rx Client

 

3. Sovereign Gardens Initiative: Cultivating Change from the Ground Up

 

Launched in 2023 with funding from New York State, the Sovereign Gardens Initiative is a pioneering step towards addressing food insecurity and empowering food production in our community. This program aims to create a lasting impact on local food resiliency.

In this pilot program, we provide plant starts and technical gardening assistance to six community-based partner organizations. Through these partnerships, we equip their staff, clients, and volunteers with the knowledge and skills to create sustainable food production infrastructure for their clients, members, or patients.

Current Sovereign Gardens Partners:

  • BEST
  • RISE
  • VCHC Guardian House
  • Shenendehowa Helping Hands Food Pantry
  • Shelters of Saratoga

At Pitney Meadows, we believe that food sovereignty is not just a vision but an action plan and a collective commitment. Join us in this endeavor as we nurture communities, foster opportunity, and cultivate a future where everyone has access to nutritious, locally sourced food. Together, we can make a profound difference in the lives of those who need it most.

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"Visiting the gardens has always been therapeutic for our guests, who appreciate the time in nature to learn about how their food grows. Our guests and staff enjoy all the produce deliveries, as we recognize health starts in the stomach...
This year, Pitney Farms helped Shelters of Saratoga start our very own community garden for the guests to maintain on the shelter’s property and it really brought our team together.
We appreciate our wonderful and thoughtful connection with Pitney!"

-Stephanie Romeo, Associate Executive Director, Shelters of Saratoga

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