Coronavirus/ COVID-19 Updates
During these difficult times, our top priority remains the health and well being of our community. We are committed to doing our part to slowing the transmission of the coronavirus, and will be complying with all local, state and federal recommendations. Our program updates are as follows:
Youth Crews: After much deliberation, we have sadly decided to cancel our Youth Crew program for the rest of 2020 and focus entirely on our food access work. A Roots Rising Crew is an intimate experience- we travel together in our van, we work side by side, we cook and eat together, we turn to each other in Real Talk circles.
The necessity of social distancing would take away much of what is magical about our Crews, and would make other aspects impossible. This especially applies to providing transport and food, which are the two elements that we include to level the playing field and make these jobs accessible for all.
And so for the safety of all, we will need to pause this program. That said, our Crews remain at the heart of Roots Rising, and we are thinking creatively to keep youth voices integrated into our organization. We have brought Z Estime on board, a fantastic intern from Mount Holyoke College, who is spearheading a Youth Council for our Crew alumni. This Council will be tasked with exploring ways that Roots Rising can transition to being an anti-racist organization. It will also provide community for Roots Rising youth while we need to remain physically distant.
Our Youth Crews WILL come back, and we look forward to the day when we can be back out in the farm fields again, singing worksongs and being together under the sun.
Pittsfield Farmers Market: After carefully considering our options, we have decided to suspend the outdoor season of our Pittsfield Farmers Market for 2020 and continue our Virtual Farmers Market through November 14th.
There were multiple reasons for this decision, including the safety of our shoppers, feedback from our vendors with concerns about an outdoor market, and the community feedback we've gotten about wanting the Virtual Farmers Market to continue, which we would not have the staff capacity to run at the same time as an outdoor market.
We are now dedicated to continuing the Virtual Farmers Market and expanding its impact. We are doing so in several ways:
1) We are pursuing the ability to process SNAP online. The USDA has extensive requirements for any online retailer seeking to accept SNAP, and currently only Amazon and Walmart have been authorized to do so in Massachusetts. We are working hard to meet the requirements: so far we have switched to new e-commerce and payment processing platforms and have submitted a Letter of Intent to the USDA.
2) We are working hard to expand our financial assistance program. We are excited to announce that we have received funding from the MA COVID-19 Fund to offer 100 shoppers per week a $30 discount! That is DOUBLE the amount that we have previously been giving out!
3) Finally, we are excited to announce a brand new shopping opportunity with the Virtual Farmers Market: BENEFITS DAY! On these two days each month, shoppers who have HIP (Health Incentive Program) and/or WIC and Senior FMNP coupons can purchase fresh fruits and veggies with their benefits! This will be in the form of pre-packed themed boxes made by our farmers- such as “salad greens”, “root veggies”, or “squash/zucchini”. In addition, due to generous funding received for our financial assistance program, all shoppers receive a 50% discount on their order! Because these benefits MUST be processed in person, we are offering a safe and easy curbside pickup at the First Street parking lot in Pittsfield.
We’re thrilled that Benefits Day is now a part of our commitment to making fresh food accessible to all. Please see our FAQ sheet for more information, including ordering and curbside pickup dates!
For any questions, please contact our Program Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are grateful for the support of our community and we look forward to brighter days ahead!