Real Food Share Announces Name Change, Expanding Initiatives
This month, Real Food Share officially changed its name to Real Food CT to better align with its future goals and projects.
The Newtown nonprofit was founded in 2019 by CT Master Gardener Sean Fitzpatrick with a mission to grow and distribute nutritious food to people in need.
Over the last few months, Fitzpatrick and his team have been developing the idea for two new programs that will propel the trajectory of the organization from a town staple to a state-wide resource.
“We hope to really impact our local and regional food system in a really positive way,” Fitzpatrick said. “We felt that transforming the name from Real Food Share to Real Food CT marked more of this Connecticut-focused and locally focused effort that we are making.”
One of the new initiatives launching will be the Real Food Fund to pay local farmers for A-level produce and contract them with hunger relief organizations.
Fitzpatrick explained, “We have been building our network in the last two or three years, picking up the surplus, B-level produce. Produce that is still good enough to eat, but it isn’t that CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] top quality.
“What we are going to do now with the fund is take that next step and say, ‘How can we reward and incentivize the farmers even more?’ The farmers are very special quality people. They very much care about food security and working with hunger relief organizations.”
Real Food Fund will pay the farmers directly for their food for groups in need.
The second program being introduced by Real Food CT will be its Small Farm Model.
Thanks to funding from the State Department of Agriculture, the group will be able to replicate what they have been doing in Newtown — building a production of high-quality produce on small lots that are an acre or less — in other areas.
“Over our journey, we started donating to FAITH [Food Pantry] here in town and started expanding to neighboring towns,” Fitzpatrick said. “Eventually we made our way into Danbury and Bridgeport, where there is the highest amount of poverty and food insecurity in our region.”
He continued, “You start to get the sense that bringing extra produce and donating extra food just isn’t enough. The circumstances are a little bit different, so what we are doing with the Small Farm Model is creating opportunities by putting up and building more small farms like the ones we have.”
The Small Farm Model will provide an opportunity for individuals or groups to partner with Real Food CT and get into farming or food production.
Both of the new programs will work hand-in-hand with one another to help positively impact as many people as possible.
“We’re going to use the Real Food Fund to provide contracts for these new small farms. The whole point of it is to prioritize some of the diversification efforts/equity and inclusion efforts that are going on across the state of Connecticut and country,” Fitzpatrick said. “Across the state of Connecticut there is a glaring lack of diversity in the agriculture space, so we are trying our best to be part of the solution in our region and local food space.”
He noted that signs with the new name will be made in the future, but the group has already updated its website.
To learn more about Real Food CT and its next Grow Your Own Garden Workshop on April 16, visit realfoodct.org.
Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.