Each week, we at Darien-based VolunteerSquare.com are fortunate to work with some of the most generous and passionate folks in Fairfield County working hard to make a difference. And each week we are consistently impressed by the sheer determination of every one of these non-profits and community groups. This week was no exception.
We recently welcomed Fairfield-based Feeney Farm to the Volunteer Square family and we couldn’t be happier. I met the founder, Margaret Feeney, several years ago through some mutual friends and was instantly taken aback by her dogged determination to bringing healthy food to Fairfield County’s needy.
Margaret’s passion stems from a very personal place. A few years back, Margaret’s father passed away suddenly from pancreatic cancer. Instead of allowing the tragic loss to paralyze her, Margaret took her grief and turned it into action by starting Feeney Farm in his memory. She created Feeney Farm to attack cancer and other chronic illness through healthy eating. According to countless studies and experts, insufficient access to affordable healthy food has been shown to be a contributing factor in the development of chronic illness in low-income communities nationwide.
Today, Feeney Farm’s mission has morphed slightly to eliminate so-called food deserts in Bridgeport – one of Fairfield County’s most in need communities. Feeney Farm defines a food desert as an “underprivileged, low-income area where residents have difficulty accessing affordable, healthy food such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products.”
“When it comes down to it, I think the First Lady's goal to eliminate food deserts in seven years is achievable but it is going to be very difficult,” says Feeney. “What’s more, it has to be done correctly to address the underlying reason for the program: decreasing the occurrence of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma, within these communities.”
And a grassroots approach to this challenge is just what Feeney Farm is all about. Recently, Margaret teamed up with folks at the new Fairfield Whole Foods Market to host a free nutrition class at Bridgeport’s Harrison Apartments, which is managed by Alpha Community Services, a division of the YMCA. The following week, Feeney Farm delivered nearly 1,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to the same apartment complex, which is located in one of Bridgeport's five food deserts.
To date, Feeney Farm has distributed 8,000 pounds of food to several communities within Bridgeport. Margaret helps facilitate the food drops and is always looking for volunteers so if you’re interested, give her a shout by visiting www.volunteersquare.com.
Hats off to Margaret and Feeney Farm. Keep up the amazing work!
To learn more about Feeney Farm, visit: www.feeneyfarm.org.