Fresh Veggies Sold Direct to City of Providence

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Food Day delivered something special to City Hall: cartons of vegetables.

To show support for local agriculture and organizations that bring produce to our communities, Mayor Angel Taveras recently signed on for the Veggie Box program — a produce delivery service run by Farm Fresh Rhode Island. Every other week, Farm Fresh's innovative market mobile delivers boxes of fresh veggies from farms in Rhode Island and Massachusetts directly to employees at their businesses.

For participating city employees, the program delivers boxes containing about 10 pounds of produce directly to City Hall. The convenience offers well-priced and healthy options for employees and their families. The contents are a mix of recently harvested produce — some common, other less so. So far it has included apples, beets, cabbage, carrots, cranberries, pea greens, garlic, potatoes, kale, turnips and winter squash.

Farm Fresh offers the program to businesses and organizations throughout the city. Since the program started in August, participation has grown to include the state Department of Health, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Miriam Hospital, Delta Dental and Shape Up Rhode Island. Farm Fresh hopes to expand the program next year.

Each box costs $20 per delivery over two months. Participants also get an e-mail with recipes and information about the farm where the food was grown.

"It's growing and growing and has exceeded expectations from the first run," said Hannah Mellion of Farm Fresh. More than $25,000 of revenue has gone to local farmers in five months, she said.

The Veggie Box program was rolled out for city employees Oct. 24 in time for Rhode Island’s celebration of National Food Day.

“By increasing access to fresh, local and healthy food choices for all families, the Food Policy Council and its community partners are working to make Providence residents and all Rhode Islanders healthier, especially those who suffer from the effects of childhood obesity and malnutrition,” Taveras said.