CLEVELAND — Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez knows first-hand how out of reach fresh fruits and vegetables can be in certain communities.
“I just wanted to access healthy foods to feed my kids and I wanted to make sure that I was supporting small farmers. But because I was in poverty, that was kind of really hard to do," Mauser-Martinez said.
Things got easier when Mauser-Martinez came across City Fresh, a community-supported agriculture organization run by the New Agrarian Center which works to create and promote a more healthy and equitable local food system.
Each spring, City Fresh “Fresh Stops” like this one sprout up in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties in urban and rural areas that are considered USDA census-tract food desserts. They allow members to sign up for weekly shares of fresh, local, naturally-grown produce.
“How I originally got involved with the organization was as a shareholder using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP or food stamps,” Mauser-Martinez said.
City Fresh is also a major support system for local farmers. All of this produce was harvested at Ohio farms.
“The quality of the vegetables is, you know, kind of bar none. In terms of dense nutrition, in terms of locality, in terms of how it was grown, this, this is very good food. I wasn't familiar with every vegetable that I’d ever seen that came through, but eventually, it's, you know through practice you get good at eating seasonally,” she said.
Season after season, Mauser-Martinez kept coming back. Now she’s the Agrarian Center’s executive director, overseeing operations at every City Fresh “Fresh Stop”.
“It’s really about community building at its soul. We're here to get to know each other, and it's through talking with your neighbors, it's through talking with volunteers that you learn and grow as an eater, as a cook, as a foodie,” she said.