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Springfield Food Access Project

gardening the community

The Springfield Food Access Project ended in 2010.  The endeavor was a two-year project that united faith- and community-based organizations to develop strategies that would increase access to affordable, culturally appropriate, and nutritious food in the city of Springfield.  Through community partnerships, The Food Bank is launched many community efforts to influence policy change that will improve food access in order to reduce hunger and obesity.  This project was funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Childhood Obesity Program.

The project focused on the connection between hunger and obesity for a variety of reasons:

  • Springfield’s obesity rate in 2007 was 66%, as compared to a rate of 56% for Massachusetts overall.
  • Child poverty rates in Springfield are well above 30%, and as high as 70% in the Mason Square and North End sections.
  • Chronic health diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and obesity are more prevalent in the Black and Hispanic communities of Springfield than in other communities.

Within Springfield, the following activities were launched, and carry on with community support:

  1. Advocacy and policy changes such as:
    1. Establishing zoning ordinances to allow community gardening, reclaiming of abandoned space, and farmer’s markets
    2. Establishing and supporting a Springfield Food Policy Council
    3. Statewide policy & legislation:
      • Resources to increase Food Stamps/SNAP Enrollment
      • An Act to Promote Healthy School Meals
      • A bill to establish a Massachusetts Food Policy Council
  2. Increasing community awareness and education around causes of obesity and hunger.
  3. Working with local food retailers and others to increase the physical presence, availability, and affordability of nutritious and culturally appropriate food.

In 2009, the Springfield Food Access Project awarded fourteen $1,000 grants to community- and faith-based initiatives working to increase access to affordable nutritious foods.  Learn more about these initiatives.

Springfield Food Policy Council

Starting in 2007, several non-profit organizations led by Springfield Partners for Community Action, Partners for a Healthier Community and The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, conducted a planning process to establish a Springfield Food Policy Council with the support of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Public Health Council.

This Council is oversees the coordination of public and private efforts to improve access to nutritious, affordable, fresh, and safe foods for all residents of Springfield. To the greatest extent possible, this Council advocates for policies and resources that promote and strengthen the local and regional food systems for the City of Springfield by investing in local resources and solutions.

More information about the Food Policy Council.