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County Brings Local Produce Directly to Its Workforce

Community Supported Agriculture Part of Push for Employee Wellness

SAN JOSÉ – Starting Tuesday, Santa Clara County became the first government agency locally to offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to its employees. The program, which brings farm fresh fruits and vegetables directly to its workers, is County’s latest effort to promote employee wellness.

The idea of the program came from Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Ken Yeager. In his State of the County Address in January, Yeager called for renewed vigor in promoting employee wellness. He has long supported connecting employees to CSA and used the speech to draw attention to its possibilities.

“I know that many employees don’t have easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables and farms eggs, said Yeager. “I hope that this will make it easier for them to plan healthier meals for their families and avoid fast foods.”

CSA delivers produce from local farms directly to consumers. It benefits the farmer by providing regular, reliable customers who receive convenient access to high-quality fruits and vegetables. The environment also benefits by keeping local agricultural land intact and reducing the need for transporting food over long distances. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Santa Clara County’s CSA program is voluntary and self-supporting. It requires no funding or subsidies from the County. On a weekly basis, employees have an opportunity to order a produce box directly from a local farmer who delivers directly to the County Government Center. Deliveries are convenient for both the farmer and employees, keeping costs affordable for staff.

Its success could well serve as model for other local governments striving to improve the health of their workforce. For its first foray into CSA, the County reached out to JP Organics of Salinas who has set up successful partnerships bringing local produce to students and faculty at San Jose State University, Santa Clara University, and Stanford. On the first day of delivery, 75 employees received produce boxes from JP Organics. After a pilot period, the County will look into ways of expanding the program.

“Community Supported Agriculture offers a number of possibilities for County employees and residents alike,” said Yeager. “I hope other local governments and private businesses follow our lead.”

The CSA program augments existing efforts to promote health to staff. A 2007 proposal by Supervisor Yeager created a directory of local health clubs that offer discounts to County employees. Ongoing blood pressure screenings and monitoring are provided by request, and periodic cholesterol and glucose screenings are offered at worksites. In addition to ongoing classes, the County also stages an annual employee wellness fair and a series of regular activity programs such as its “March Into May” walk promotion and its “Step It Up” stair challenge. Later this year, Supervisor Yeager plans to introduce more wellness programs.

“Employee wellness initiatives increase productivity and can ultimately lower healthcare-related costs,” said Yeager. “As an employer, the County is making an important investment by promoting better worker health.”

Media Contact:  Jim Weston, Office of Supervisor Yeager (408) 299-5040
Posted: July 20, 2010