Food Bank gets grant to buy from local farms 

  • Bridget Clapp of Clapp Family Farm on Clinton Street in Concord arranges flowers at their stand on Monday. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Ryan Goff, who works part-time and lives next door to the Clapp Family Farm, carries flowers over to the farm stand on Monday.

  • The sign the Clapp family is about to put up at their farm on Clinton Street. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 6/22/2022 12:20:26 PM

Getting more food from small local farmers to hungry people benefits both groups, and a hefty federal grant is going to help.

“I want to see money in local farmers’ pockets … and food in the coolers in my pantries, waiting for the end clients. This will help us increase that flow of local, high-nutrient-density food,” said Eileen Liponis, executive director of New Hampshire Food Bank, which will get $900,000 to purchase local food through a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.

For farmers, she said, a contract with the Food Bank “offers a revenue stream that’s going to be predictable and sustainable.”

Among the local farms getting Food Bank business is the Clapp Family Farm, which operates a small farm stand on Clinton Street. They have sold some of their pork to City Hope, one of scores of clients of the N.H. Food Bank.

The Clapp family has been doing farming of various kinds on this property for a century. The current farm stand started up five years ago as part of a transition between generations, said Bridget Clapp. She runs the farm with her husband, Jason, who also has a trucking operation.

They have 16 beef cows, along with pigs and chickens raised for meat, and grow a variety of vegetables. They purchase some produce such as strawberries and sweet corn from other New Hampshire farms to round out their offerings.

“It’s on a small scale, a very small scale,” said Clapp. “It’s enough to feed us and make some money.”

Helping farms of all sizes is one of the goals of the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program. 

The grant will help the Food Bank to expand its “NH Feeding NH program,” which buys vegetables, fruit, and other produce, dairy, and meat from local farmers.

Food purchases will be distributed to 283 partner agencies throughout all 10 counties, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, food pantries, schools, after-school programs and senior centers. The Food Bank said some 129,470 people will be eligible to receive food through the program.

The program will also place an emphasis on the purchase of culturally appropriate foods, so that at least 10% of total food purchased is culturally relevant to the state’s growing immigrant and refugee communities.

The New Hampshire Food Bank operates “like a hub-and-spoke model,” said Liponis. It buys and stores food in its Manchester headquarters and distributes it to organizations that feed people.

Getting certain types of processed food such as pasta is relatively easy, she said. Locally grown food is another matter.

“All the pantries, they want more produce, more produce, more produce,” she said.

Purchasing from farms will help solve a recent problem caused by the pandemic.

“Supply chains are back but they’re not as robust as they used to be. There’s not the variety anymore” at grocery stores, Liponis said. “That means there is less leftover food for us, less salvage for us.

“We pick up directly from grocery partners but if they’ve got less to start with, they’ve got less left over for us.”

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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