Summer vacation is usually an exciting time for children. They get to lose the stresses and responsibilities of homework, tests and getting up early. Unfortunately, for too many children in Connecticut, this also means losing one of the best sources of consistent nutritional meals. The Summer Meals program run by New Haven Public Schools attempts to correct this deficit. It began years ago when certain New Haven school cafeterias gave away free meals during the summer, but this effort seemed to only reach a fraction of those in need. Now Summer Meals operates dozens of open (for any child under 18) and closed (only children associated with the local site’s organization) sites across New Haven and Hamden, providing meals. This includes 3 “mobile sites” run out of busses and a food truck that visit multiple locations everyday throughout the summer, allowing for flexibility of areas served. This has resulted in an impressive 263,381 meals being served over the course of the program’s 7 week duration. Broken down by meals that’s: 23,310 free suppers (a 198% increase from summer 2014!), 138,131 free lunches and 101,940 free breakfasts. Many of these locations have become more than just a place to grab a needed meal but also a hub for the community to come together. Last year patrons of some of these lunch sites were able to purchase cheap produce, thanks to a partnership between Summer Meals and CT Food Bank’s GROW Truck. Despite only visiting the sites for a handful of days, more than 916 families were able to visit the GROW Truck to shop. Additionally several of the sites last summer featured family and kid oriented activities organized with the help of local AmeriCorps staff. If you would like to know more about the program you can visit their website atwww.nhps.net/summermeals
Inclusiveness, diversity, collaboration, shared responsibility, ability for all to choose healthy food, equity and fairness
Healthy people, healthy planet, healthy economy, healthy community.
Information, awareness, empowerment, self- advocacy, inspiration, transformation.
Accountability, openness, transparency, honesty, facts, space for complexity, sustainability, engagement, adaptability.
Fearless leaning into complexity, trust in others, resilience, experimentation, disruption, embrace difference.
Community, celebration, optimism, excitement, shared experience, cultural connection, enthusiasm, high energy, vibrancy.
We envision a Connecticut where everyone has access to safe, nutritious, culturally appropriate, and affordable food; where the food supply chain supports many vibrant and varied small businesses that provide sustainable livelihoods; where there is broad public awareness and passionate public support of a robust local food system; and where stewardship of soil, water, air and energy resources is institutionalized as an integral part of a resilient and robust regional culture of food, health and community.
In the coming decade, a just, sustainable food system will thrive in Connecticut and thereby:
Create working relationships among food system stakeholders that are close, strong, enduring, fair, and equitable.
Improve access for all community members to an adequate, affordable, nutritious, and culturally appropriate diet.
Encourage food and agriculture-related businesses that result in stronger community economies through job creation, fair pricing for consumers and producers, and recirculation of financial capital in the community.
Improve health, reduce risk of diet-related diseases, and increase enjoyment of food among community members.
Provide the information and experiences necessary for consumers (children and adults) to understand the sources of their food, the social, environmental and health impacts of their food choices, and the role of food in a healthy community.
Raise public participation and interest in food and agriculture.
Bring about policies that promote local food production, improve access to local retail and processing markets, and support institutional procurement of local agricultural goods and services.
Clarify information in cases where obscurity, uncertainty, and equivocation prevail.
Create Sustainable Systems
Increase the application of sustainable agricultural practices that preserve and enhance natural resources and ecosystem services.
Implement energy efficient practices throughout the system.
Employ strategies that reduce and reuse resources, including waste, throughout the food system.
Build a sustainable infrastructure that ensures our goals for the food system can be met today, tomorrow and forever.
The Connecticut Food System Alliance (CFSA) believes that the predominating food system has harmful impacts on human health and the environment, and shifts economic benefits away from our local communities. These negative impacts affect all of us, but are disproportionately borne by historically marginalized communities. For these reasons among others, the predominating food system, as it currently operates, is unsustainable – it literally cannot continue as it is. We as a group are invested in imagining and implementing a viable alternative that minimizes harm and creates real community benefits by relying more prevalently on local systems to meet much of Connecticut’s food need, and by holding all food system stakeholders, whether local, regional or global, accountable for their impacts.