Holyoke Neighborhoods

For Nuestras Raices and the Holyoke Food and Fitness Policy Council developing strategies to increase healthy food access is of primary importance. Their vision is for a comprehensive, unified community-based systems-change initiative that creates access for families and children to healthy foods and fitness opportunities and confronts underlying conditions of poverty, blight, and social injustice. For the past two years they have been working collaboratively to improve the policies, practices, and systems that determine how food arrives on tables in Holyoke, and advocate for a healthier and sustainable system. “Movable Feast” is one part of their implementation strategy to build greater access to affordable, fresh and healthy foods. So, in coordination with the Holyoke Housing Authority, we visited two housing complexes; Toepfert Apartments in the “Flats” neighborhood, and Beaudoin Village, a complex of two-story structures just north of Holyoke Community College. Joshua Garcia, a resident services coordinator for the Housing Authority, was a great resource and orchestrated our visit and promoted the event among tenants at both complexes. We were accompanied by Jesus Espinosa, Nuestras Raices’ Farmers Market manager, who towed the trailer and set up a table of fresh vegetables at both sites. Our main “customers” today were young kids, attracted by our stainless steel trailer festooned with signs, and, with a little coaxing from our chef Ana Jaramillo, curious about the food we were serving. Raising kid’s awareness of the benefits of fresh food, and creating access and familiarity with fresh foods, is an important part of our project –and any effort towards food system change. We took some small steps today, but we all hope that this is the start of an effort for real and sustainable change in these Holyoke neighborhoods.

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