The most effective neighborhood change begins and ends with the people who live there. Citing LISC’s Communities for Healthy Food NYC program as a model, former director of programs Colleen Flynn outlines the importance of working with organizations rooted in the community in order to empower residents, improve health and whip up something nutritious.
Real change has to come from within, and helping bring better food and food awareness to neighborhoods in need—the goal of New York City LISC’s Communities for Healthy Food initiative—is a fundamentally grassroots endeavor. An article in Next City highlights how neighbors in Brooklyn and the Bronx, with LISC’s support, are working to improve their communities’ diets and health, mitigate food insecurity and strengthen social ties and entrepreneurship, all at the same time.
As part our work to improve access to affordable, healthy food in low-income neighborhoods across the country, LISC has invested in grocery stores, community gardens, farmers markets and nutrition education. Now, Duluth LISC and its partners have inaugurated a dedicated bus line to take residents of Lincoln Park, a perennial food desert, to the nearest full-service grocery store. The weekly “Grocery Express” is outfitted with special bins and racks to handle purchases, and mitigates the problem of lugging grocery bags on a crowded city bus that didn’t stop directly in front of the store.
In the small city of Brockton, Mass., LISC has been working closely with local leaders to revitalize an abandoned commercial site with a new grocery store and health center focused on improving the health of nearby residents. Vicente's Tropical Supermarket and Brockton Neighborhood Health Center are developing adjacent facilities and joint programs that address chronic health challenges. The new grocery store celebrated its grand opening last week; the health center will open later this summer.
LISC's newest Community Healthy Food Hub in Harlem is creating a buzz, as features on TV news channel NY1 and in the online journal City Limits attest. A fresh take on the traditional food pantry, the hub is part of LISC's "Communities for Healthy Food NYC" initiative, operating in four of the city’s neighborhoods. It offers one-stop-shopping—bringing together key services like nutritional counseling, free, high quality groceries, cooking classes and access to food stamps—to make it easier for West Harlem's low-income families to live healthier lives.