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In the workplace: How CSA inspired one local company

May 14th, 2010 | Category: Features

by Lori McKnight

The term Workplace CSA was recently brought to my attention.  A Workplace CSA takes the traditional model of a CSA one step further by delivering a normal CSA farm share to a group drop off site, such as a workplace, for employees to conveniently pick up. The farmer can deliver them all at once to the workplace saving the employees from driving to the farm to pick them up each week. I had personally been involved in CSA’s before and understood the value to both the end consumer and the farmer. It is a win-win model supporting local agriculture.
The Workplace CSA concept excited me. We could provide healthy produce to our employees and support our local agriculture right here from our workplace. I set out with the goal to gain management support and a monetary contribution to start a program. With a management contribution we could make it even more cost effective for our employees to participate in this program – contributing to their health and wellness while supporting our company’s sustainability goals.
A brief PowerPoint proposal was created to present to our CEO for approval. Included in the proposal was a brief summary of what a Workplace CSA was, how it benefited our company and employees, how it supported our sustainability goals, and the potential cost for employees per week for the average 20 week CSA Share. The proposal closed with a call to action. The company was asked for 1. A company contribution to each share and 2. For the company to initially pay out the cost of shares and then allow employees to have the amount deducted from their paychecks during the time period of the CSA program. Our CEO liked the Workplace CSA concept and was on board to contribute to the program.  After we reviewed the cost per week for the most popular options, he offered up a very generous contribution to each share that an employee signed up for. The proposal went onto the management team for their support. We had approval for our first Workplace CSA program.
Sending out an all company email announcing our first Workplace CSA program supported by our company was an exciting moment. The program was explained and included an easy chart showing the cost per employee per week for the two most popular CSA share options; sign-up sheet and a date to turn it in were included. Immediately emails started coming in and my phone began to ring. The excitement level was contagious. I had coworkers thanking me over for getting this program going. I had managers thanking me for getting this going and for what they saw the excitement doing for their staff.  The company contribution helped motivate employees to get involved but on a deeper level it gave the employees pride that they worked for a company that cared about their health and supporting local agriculture.
We now have 50 percent of our employees signed up to receive Workplace CSA shares this year. As coordinator of this project I am excited to see what the season has to offer and hope we can offer this as a yearly program going forward. I am delighted to support our local Whatcom County Farms. I hope other business will follow and add the option of Workplace CSA’s. All it takes is one passionate person in an organization to do the legwork and get a program going.

Lori McKnight is PR Manager for a local supplement company, a Health & Wellness Enthusiast and passionate about sustainability and local community. Her free moments are spent enjoying the wonders of Whatcom County with her husband and daughter. Contact Lori at MomforHealth@gmail.com.

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