Whitter St. BHA Residents Plan for Food Security

By chance, I was at a meeting at Northeastern Crossing the same Saturday in January that Residents of Whitter St BHA Development had the 1st meeting of the Whittier Food Resource Group to discuss food and food systems in their community. As the MHHM had discussed opening a Farmers’ Market near Ruggles station, I mentioned it to one of the organizers and offered to help if that issue came up. A few months, later I was asked to do a small presentation on what the Mission Hill Community had down to improve food availability in the community.
At the beginning of May, I was last of 4 presenters from community organizations and Northeastern who spoke about different issues of food and food availability. I explained the role of the MH Community in getting a major supermarket in the neighborhood (Stop & Shop), and how the MH Link bus improves transportation between Alice Taylor and the Stop & Shop, suggesting Whittier St residents could walk the short distance to Alice Taylor and catch the bus. I described the MHHM’s two Farmers Markets and the food subsidy programs available for low income residents through government and private programs including the subsidy formerly provided by BIDMC to support nutrition of Seniors at the MH Farmers Markets. Some of the suggestions I made they had already considered such as developing a community garden and having a closer farmers market had already been considered. They also had discussed having a training or commercial kitchen in the new development. I learned they had concerns about the price and quality of produce at a major grocery store close to the development. Tenants said they often took road trips to cheaper suburban super markets for groceries.

 

On July 7th, Whittier Food Resource Group released its Action Plan with 10 Goals:
• Goal 1 Have the Fresh Truck make regular appearances at the Whittier St development.
• Goal 2 Have nutrition and cooking classes for residents in the newly developed community room
• Goal 3 Have a farmers’ market nearby the Whittier development
• Goal 4 Residents have space for a community garden
• Goal 5 Transportation services to local grocery stores are m to senior residents
• Goal 6 Ensure the availability of food access programs (i.e. Healthy Incentives Program – HIP)
• Goal 7 Design a food pantry for the redeveloped community room
• Goal 8 Ensure local stores accept EBT
• Goal 9 Residents obtain more coupons and discounts to local grocery stores
• Goal 10 Work with Food Access partners to ensure a better quality of products
The BHA hopes to use the process under which these goals were established as a guide in other developments.

Some of these goals align with MHHM’s plans to increase the consumption of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in the community such as the availability of farmers markets. Currently, the MHHM has 2: Brigham Circle, Thursdays, 11-6; and Roxbury Crossing Tuesdays and Fridays, 11-7. The MHHM is developing a new Community Garden: GORE ST GARDEN over the next few years. The MHHM works to provide subsidies for Seniors to make the Farmers Market affordable to the community.

I attended the completion ceremony for the plan were participants received farmed certificates signed by the head of the BHA and the Mayor of Boston. State Representative Chyna Tyler also gave each participant a certificate of achievement from the Massachusetts State Legislature. All the Whittier Food Resource Group Members was so excited to have their hard work and accomplishments acknowledged. One participant excitedly said this was the first time she had completed anything and got a certificate for it.

The MHHM looks to continue support the residents of the Whitter St Development as it implements their plan.

Please contact the MHHM for a copy of the plan.

 

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