Rosie’s Place and Community Partners Help Improve Guests’ Nutrition

Food Pantry

For most of us, fresh vegetables and fruit are what make the meal.  For poor women who rely on canned goods donated by food banks and food drives, a basket of fresh produce is a special treat. To help meet that need, several local farms and other community partners donate produce to Rosie’s Place so we can provide a wide range of healthy food options to our guests.  

 This farm initiative engages nine donor groups in the greater Boston Area. Some are conventional farms, like Volante Farms in Needham, Brookwood Community Farm in Canton and Hutchins Farm in Concord. Others include groups like the Food Project, Hope Central Church in Jamaica Plain and even Belmont Day School, where students and their mothers have donated produce grown in a small garden on campus. The produce arrives at Rosie’s Place in a variety of ways, with volunteers, Rosie’s Place staff, and food rescue organizations offering their time to pick up shipments and deliver them.

The financial impact of these food donations is substantial, says Rosie’s Place staffer Katie Amoro, who oversees the farm initiative. “These donations reduce our food spending by about $30,000 a year, and that makes a huge a difference,” she notes.

“It’s not just farms, but also organizations throughout the community that are helping us,” Amoro adds. “There’s a whole movement right now around growing food everywhere–in schools, communities groups, churches–and we are so grateful when they want to donate their produce to an organization such as Rosie’s Place.”

One organization which exemplifies the “food everywhere” phenomenon is the Food Project, a nonprofit that manages farms that grow healthy food for residents of the city and suburbs while providing youth leadership opportunities. The fruits (and vegetables!) of their labor are distributed to agriculture programs, farmers markets, and, among others, the food program at Rosie’s Place.

“It’s really important to us that the food we grow is accessible to people of various economic backgrounds,” says Danielle Andrews, who manages the Food Project’s Dudley Farm in Boston, just a mile from Rosie’s Place. “Bringing our organically grown produce to Rosie’s Place and other organizations means that we’re going to get the food to people who want and need it but can’t necessarily afford it.”

In addition, over the last two years, The Food Project has helped Rosie’s Place’s guests set up a small garden outside the dining room with three raised beds, which are now growing tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, eggplant, garlic and a multitude of other vegetables. 

This opportunity for women to learn and advocate for their nutrition is a powerful one.

“Being part of the [Garden] Committee has been positive for me because I am surrounded by women who know how to work with the plants–and with them I am learning a lot,” says Francisca, a member of the 2014 Rosie’s Place Garden Committee. “And I also want to eat more vegetables and organic food because it keeps me healthier. “