A woman learns about healthy eating July 23 during the CYO’s “Farm to Family Program.”  Mike Ehrmann photo.
A woman learns about healthy eating July 23 during the CYO’s “Farm to Family Program.” Mike Ehrmann photo.
Food insecurity is a reality for many residents in the Mercer County area. To offset the need, the CYO Bromley Center, Hamilton, has been operating a “Farm to Family Program,” helping families fight hunger and encouraging home gardening. 

“This idea came from a partnership with Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health and Snipes Farm & Education Center in Morrisville, Pa.,” explained Patrick Hardiman, director of the Bromley Center. “This is a great example of three organizations partnering for a great cause, and the CYO Bromley Center is thankful to RWJ Barnabas and Snipes Farm for choosing us.”

Photo Gallery: CYO's “Farm to Family Program”

The Mercer County Catholic Youth Organization has been working diligently to help as economic challenges affect many in the Trenton during the pandemic.

“During COVID 19, many are out of work or have reduced hours, which leads to more difficult times to feed families and do so [healthfully],” Hardiman said. “Our food pantry [use] has increased by over 25 families since mid-March, so this is a great time to run this program.”

Hardiman said the program’s objectives are to address food insecurity, help families learn how to eat healthier and offer home gardening tips, even if some families are unable to grow their own food due to living at properties with limited space. The program is operating every Thursday for 16 weeks, from July to October.

“During each session when the families come in to pick up their fruits and vegetables, they are taught the notional value of eating fresh produce and perhaps learn some basic home gardening tips on how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables on their own,” he said. “[They] are provided with recipes and live cooking demonstrations utilizing produce from Snipes Farm.”

Tina Vaah, a Farm to Family participant, said, “They taught me a lot of healthy tips [such as] the amount of water to drink every day and which foods have a lot of sugar and salt.” Vaah said she doesn’t garden at home but is interested in growing zucchini and spinach.

Participant Elizabeth Watson said it will take her time to implement what she learning at home. “But it is better for my health. I really enjoy it and … I am learning a lot.”