C&S Wholesale Grocers Inc. and Antioch University New England Improve Community Access to Food with Workplace Gardens Initiative

New graduate fellowship and website serve as resources for other companies

Keene, New Hampshire – C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (C&S) and Antioch University New England (AUNE) proudly announce a workplace organic gardens initiative, which includes a formal graduate fellowship at AUNE and a new website launched by the company to serve as a free resource to businesses. Both of these initiatives help improve how communities provide reliable access to healthy, locally grown food.

“Our intention is to share what we’ve learned from the workplace gardens at our corporate headquarters and to inspire other companies to start gardens of their own,” said Gina Goff, C&S senior director of community involvement. “When we established our gardens a few years ago, there were plenty of resources available about home gardening, farming, and growing food in neighborhood lots, but nothing was specific to the workplace. Our website (http://gardens.cswg.com ) offers a rationale around the return on investment, employee engagement, and other tangible benefits.”

The ongoing work of AUNE’s Environmental Studies Department, which includes applying and researching best practices in program planning and communications, community resilience frameworks, and improved community access in food systems, provided a basis for the partnership, which C&S sponsors. The workplace gardens project is spearheaded by Dr. Elizabeth McCann, a professor and director in the department, and endorsed by AUNE President Dr. Stephen B. Jones.

“I am able to connect theory and practice, while creating opportunities to make a real difference in the community,” said Jess Gerrior, the 2015 growing season fellow and AUNE Doctoral student.. “The current food system does not work for everyone when there are people who must choose between what they can afford and what is healthy and sustainable.”

The workplace garden concept and what would become a formal academic initiative began in the fall of 2014 to explore the expansion of the Keene workplace gardens, and to implement garden-based educational outreach at C&S locations in Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and South Carolina. Each garden includes a community giving component to donate produce to local hunger relief organizations. Over the last two growing seasons, 130 C&S associates at seven garden locations donated more than a half ton of fresh produce to local hunger relief agencies. Collaborations have included NH Cooperative Extension, the NH Master Gardener Program, and Plant-a-Row. The company’s gardens are as large as 65,000 square feet and as small as a couple of small containers.

Gerrior meets regularly with a team at C&S in Keene to build resources, garner feedback and evaluate how the program can best reach its goals, which correspond with the emphasis C&S places on volunteerism and employee engagement. For example, she has helped create a cafeteria gardening resource center for C&S employees to learn about food and sustainability, and researched how employees see themselves in terms of the greater food system.

“The goal is to find out what works here on a local level and scale it to other locations,” Gerrior said. “It’s about improving communities’ capacity to adapt to forces like climate change, economic change, or shifts in leadership in terms of food supply. People can make a big difference even through small actions.”

Garden plots are provided at C&S headquarters on Optical Avenue and on Summit Ave alongside existing farmland, as well as C&S sites in Brattleboro, Vermont, North Hatfield, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Hawaii. For more information about the workplace organic garden initiative, AUNE’s doctoral fellowship, or Community Garden Connections visit http://www.antiochne.edu/cgc/related/.

About Antioch University New England

Founded in 1964, Antioch University New England’s (AUNE) commitment to social, economic, and environmental justice serves as a foundation for all certificate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Coursework integrates practice with theory in an environment that fosters scholarship and activism.  Academic departments include Applied Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Education, Environmental Studies, Management, and Self-Designed Studies. Based in Keene, New Hampshire, AUNE is two and a half hours from Albany; two hours from Boston; and less than two hours from Hartford. For more information, visit: antiochne.edu.

AUNE is part of Antioch University, an accredited, non-profit university and a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education that serves adult students around the world, online and from its five campuses in four states in addition to its University-wide international and doctoral programs. The University lives by its mission every day by helping students realize their potential and achieve their educational goals through rigorous and responsive learning environment. Antioch University has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools since 1927.

About C&S Wholesale Grocers

C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., based in Keene, NH, is the largest wholesale grocery supply company in the U.S. and the industry leader in supply chain innovation. Founded in 1918 as a supplier to independent grocery stores, C&S now services customers of all sizes, supplying more than 6,000 independent supermarkets, chain stores, military bases, and institutions with over 150,000 different products.

C&S community involvement programs support initiatives to fight hunger and to promote the health and enrichment of communities that are homes to the company’s employees and facilities. To learn more: community.cswg.com.

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