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This week, Brockton, MA celebrates the launch of an inspired approach to tackling chronic, poverty-borne illness. A new complex comprising a grocery store and community health clinic will bring primary care, creative nutrition education and affordable, wholesome food to the city’s low-income residents. In an op-ed for CommonWealth, LISC president and CEO Michael Rubinger and Boston LISC’s director Bob Van Meter explain the pervasive link between poverty, food access and chronic disease and how the Brockton collaboration, which LISC helped fund, can serve as a model for the rest of the country.

The below excerpt is sourced from:
"When the doctor and the grocer team up to heal a community"
by Michael Rubinger and Bob Van Meter, CommonWealth

An insidious relationship between poverty, access to healthy food and poor health is eating away at America’s low-income communities. It’s happening across the country, and is present every day in economically challenged neighborhoods across Massachusetts.

Sections of Brockton, 30 miles south of Boston, offer far too many examples of this phenomenon. Life expectancies can vary by a decade or more in neighborhoods just a few blocks apart, with income as the demarcation line. The blame lies everywhere, from dilapidated housing to violent crime to high levels of stress and poor nutrition.

But Brockton is also now home to a pioneering alliance determined to remedy the alarming state of the city’s public health—by making quality, affordable health care and healthy food easily obtainable in a single location.

Vicente’s Tropical Supermarket, a local, family-owned business, and the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, a trusted community clinic, have entered into an innovative partnership to open new branches right next to each other. This union will create up to 200 jobs and has transformed a group of derelict buildings that dragged down the surrounding area for years. But it does far more than clean up a neglected commercial corner.

Vicente’s and the clinic share a mission to educate nearby residents about how to reduce chronic health conditions like obesity and diabetes with better nutrition as a central strategy. Their approach grew out of the realization that these problems must be attacked simultaneously on multiple fronts, because the community’s health problems have multiple causes.

Nearly one in four residents in Brockton lives below the poverty level, and the area has high rates of nutrition-related diseases like diabetes and hypertension that dwarf the averages in less challenged communities. Places to buy healthy food are few and far between—and such purchases are often considered too costly. Comprehensive primary care services have also been out of reach for many. Continued[+]...

> Read the full CommonWealth Magazine article.