July 6, 2021
Quincy Asian Resources Inc. (QARI) was formed in 2001 to fill a gap in culturally and linguistically relevant social services. At the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020 they began thinking about ways to connect consumers with local farms. They came up with an idea for an online ordering platform where customers could shop for items from multiple farms. On the operations end, they would have a centralized collection point where the farms would deliver their products and drivers would pack the bags and deliver them to the clients. They applied for an FSIG grant and were awarded $98,000 for the platform development.
There are currently limited opportunities for home delivery from farms, as well as language and transportation barriers for the clients QARI works with. QARI is developing the platform to be SNAP accessible, by allowing customers to preorder and swipe their cards when their order is being delivered. They plan to launch in June with four farms to create a food box (or CSA your way) model. The farms QARI is partnering with are Stillmans, Freitas, Charles River and Stony Creek Farm. Other farms are also potentially interested in joining in future seasons.
A big factor in choosing participating farms is whether they grow culturally relevant foods, ingredients and preparations of foods that acknowledge and appreciate the experiences, traditions, and diverse preferences of the customers. Over the longer term QARI wants to work with farmers to help them make decisions about what to grow based on what customers are seeking.
QARI is designing this platform for people who are historically excluded from these new innovative ideas – the homebound, elders, those with limited mobility, and those with language barriers. SNAP is a big touchpoint in QARI’s services, since 90% of their clients are SNAP consumers, and many clients have the perception that farm fresh produce is hard to access.
By July QARI expects their clients will be able to log in to place an order and schedule it for delivery once a week. One of the goals of the program is to develop this infrastructure to run now so it will already be in place in times of crisis. Eventually, QARI aims to do intake for other benefit programs through this platform.