Food in the ‘Hood CommitteeConcerned about the lack of access to healthy foods and a noticeable rise in obesity-related health issues in the neighborhood, in 2006, a group of residents approached the Bowdoin Street Health Center for help with creating a coalition that could address this issue at the neighborhood level.  Since then, the committee has been instrumental in the success of various community food access initiatives.  Collectively, these efforts distributed over $35,000 in fresh, healthy food to our neighbors in Bowdoin Geneva in 2012.  Meetings are held every second Wednesday of the month (Nov-June) at 6pm at the health center.  Our work was recently profiled in an interview with Healthy Food Access Program Coordinator, Maura Beaufait on Boston Neighborhood Network News.

Bowdoin Geneva Farmers’ Market – Every July-October since 2008, we have operated a non-profit market on-site at the Bowdoin Street Health Center.   Our vendors are local farms and small-scale food businesses with an interest in providing fresh fruits, vegetables, bread and fish to area residents. Additionally, produce grown and raised by the Health Center’s Youth Garden Program is sold periodically throughout the season by the young gardeners themselves.  SNAP/EBT, WIC and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupons accepted as well as cash and credit/debit cards.  We also are a Boston Bounty Bucks market – allowing SNAP/EBT users to double their dollars on fresh produce purchases!

Healthy Corner Store Initiative – We work with neighborhood convenience stores to procure healthier foods and beverages and to actively promote them.  The overarching goal of this effort is to redefine the purpose and image of existing corner stores in the Bowdoin Geneva neighborhood so that they can provide much-needed healthy food options to community residents.  We support consumer education through in-store tours and social marketing campaigns.  During the summer, we also work with stores and farmers to make local produce available right on the shelves all week long through our Farm2Biz partnerships.  Our overarching goal is year-round retail foodscape revitalization.

Farm to Family Program – Piloted in 2010, the Farm to Family program provides weekly boxes of farm-fresh produce to residents of Bowdoin Geneva at a reduced cost.  In collaboration with The Food Project, we recruit eligible families to participate and coordinate the distribution of shares to program participants.  We cover the costs of these subsidized shares by providing Workplace CSA (community supported agriculture) programs both at the health center and its affiliated medical center, Beth Israel Deaconess.  Staff can opt to make an additional weekly donation above the cost of their share to support this program.

Healthy Food Prescription (HFRx) Program – Enrolled health center patients receive written prescriptions from their healthcare provider which can be redeemed weekly for fresh produce at either the Bowdoin Geneva Farmers Market (located on-site at the health center) or the Dudley Town Common Farmers Market operated by The Food Project.  Prescriptions are written for 4-week intervals after which point they may be refilled by scheduling a follow-up appointment with the health center’s nutritionist.

Senior Healthy Champion Youth Employment Program – In partnership with the G.O.T.C.H.A. (Get Off The Corner Hangin’ Around) Collaborative and the Boston Youth Fund, we offer paid internships to Boston high school students throughout the year.  These young people develop their job skills through their active participation in healthy food access initiatives.  They gain leadership, public speaking, social marketing, and community organizing skills, while learning about community health and gaining exposure to career paths in healthcare.  They are a critical part of each and every one of our initiatives and help to make them a success.  Watch the BNN piece from Summer 2011 featuring all their hard work!

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