CSA provides boxed fresh produce for USC students

Despite the common perception of college food consisting of ramen noodles, soda and junk food, USC students actually have the option of eating farm fresh produce delivered directly to campus.

Boxed goods · The South Central Farmers organization currently offers boxes of organic food for students to pick up at the JEP House. - Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

Boxed goods · The South Central Farmers organization currently offers boxes of organic food for students to pick up at the JEP House. – Joseph Chen | Daily Trojan

In addition to the grocery stores that surround the university, USC students can participate in the South Central Farmers produce delivery program.

“It is very hard to get fresh produce in Los Angeles, and I have found that these fruits and vegetables are incredibly fresh,” said Joshua Bernstein, a graduate student studying philosophy, who ordered a box this week.

“This is a really unique program, and I hope that USC continues to have it,” he said.

USC is one of the locations the South Central Farmers Coop, a community-supported agriculture group, drops off boxes of organic produce at on a weekly basis. Susan Harris, the program director for South Central Farmers at USC, estimates the program has had a pickup location at USC for around five years. USC students can order either a full box or a mini box of organic, seasonal fruits and vegetables and pick them up at the Joint Educational Project House on Wednesdays between 2 and 6 p.m. The boxes cost between $15 and $25 a week, and all the produce is farm-fresh and locally produced.

Though many students are not aware of it, the program has gotten some attention recently. Earlier this month, the delivery program  was featured in Undergraduate Student Government’s weekly newsletter.

Community supported agriculture, better known as CSA, is a relatively new concept  in farming that has been gaining momentum since its introduction to the United States in the mid-1980s. The South Central Farmers CSA is a nonprofit organization that is “committed to engaging and empowering community members around attaining food sovereignty and access to high quality organic produce,” according to the group’s website.

USC is not the only university South Central Farmers delivers to — the group also has three pickup centers at UCLA. Other locations the group delivers to range across Los Angeles, from the Beverly Hills Farmers Market to the Watts Farmers Market.

Since Harris took over coordination for the USC campus in 2010, she estimates students have ordered between three and 12 individual boxes each week.

“We have several students who regularly buy boxes every week and are very happy to have this service provided conveniently on campus,” Harris said. “I believe it could be a much bigger program.”

Advertising could be part of the reason the program has remained relatively small. Many students said they were not aware of it.

“I hadn’t heard of it before,” said Jade Rechler, a freshman majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. “But it sounds like a really great program that I would love to learn more about.”

Others agreed that the CSA is something they might be interested in subscribing to.

“This seems like an awesome program for students at USC, so hopefully it will gain more traction and recognition on campus,” said Rachel Ben-Menachem, a freshman majoring in theatre.


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