This page features stories of programs, organizations, and individuals working in Connecticut to increase food security and create a more just and equitable food system. This is what’s going on in the CT Food System…
New Haven Farms
While Connecticut’s rate of Type 2 diabetes is below the national average, 8% to 9.3% respectively, this statistic doesn’t tell the whole story. As an averaged sum, this data does not reflect the vast disparities across the state. In Connecticut the diabetes rate for non-Hispanic White residents is only 6%, but for Hispanic and African-American residents that rate is above 14% each. People in households with an income under $25,000 are 2.3 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than people in households making over $75,000. With many low income and people of color living in urban areas, diabetes has become a rising issue for our cities.
New Haven Farms has taken a holistic approach to addressing diabetes by converting a vacant urban space into an agricultural center where healthy lifestyles can be taught and practiced. Partnered healthcare providers, such as Fairhaven Community Health Center and Cornell Scott Health Center, can prescribe participation in the program to those who meet certain requirements that highlight them as “at-risk”. The four month program consists of hands-on urban agriculture and classes that teach food nutrition and healthy cooking skills. Through the program participants learn about the food they eat, from seed to salad, plus they get a weekly share of the produce they helped grow! The program can be conducted in both English and Spanish and also includes kid-friendly styled activities and classes. This is essential because the program’s success is seen as reliant on the fact that it is a family focused approach, our loved ones are sometimes the best inspiration for change and growth. Of course exercise is as crucial to a healthy lifestyle as a good diet, thus a total of 150 hours of aerobic exercise must be completed through the program as well. It will be exciting to see how the program grows from here. Last year they were able to double their food production space so there are no signs of slowing down.
New Haven Summer Meals
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 at www.nhps.net/summermeals