$100,000 Urban Agenda Grant Awarded to Enhance Food Security and Community Leadership in Hampshire County

Home E CES Stories E $100,000 Urban Agenda Grant Awarded to Enhance Food Security and Community Leadership in Hampshire County
Article Author: Kathy Levesque
Publication Name: Collaborative for Educational Services
Article Date: March 4, 2024
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The Collaborative for Educational Services’ Healthy Hampshire initiative is thrilled to announce a $100,000 grant from the Executive Office of Economic Development’s Urban Agenda Grant Program to the Hampshire County Food Policy Council (HCFPC) for its Food Policy Leaders project. This initiative is set to transform community economic development by fostering collaboration and leadership among 25 local residents who are low-income, Black, Latino, foreign-born, or experiencing food insecurity.

The grant aims to build capacity among these individuals, supporting them to design and implement solutions to address food insecurity in their own communities. Leveraging a consent-based power-sharing model called Sociocracy, the HCFPC brings together professional partners from food and health organizations with community residents from across Hampshire County to promote equitable food policies and strengthen the local food economy. Over 50 people are actively engaged and volunteers are welcome to join in the efforts. 

“As a recipient of training and encouragement from programs like this, I have become economically empowered and given a voice that has improved my community’s access to healthy food. The people I am working with care deeply about our community and making sure we have resources to work on projects that benefit low-income communities,” says Kia Aoki, a Northampton resident who helped establish the HCFPC. 

The project includes training sessions, leadership development, and project development activities focused on market-based approaches to improving food access.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to really dive deeper into our collective understanding of what food justice can be in the valley and how we can support one another to achieve that”, adds T Sogoba, the Capacity Building Coordinator for the HCFPC.

Hampshire County boasts a thriving local food economy with over 700 farms generating more than $46 million annually. However, disparities in healthy food access and workforce participation persist. The Food Policy Leaders project aligns with the Governor’s Black and Latino Advisory Commissions’ recommendations, building valuable skills that will enhance employability, participation in civic life, and capacity to impact local food systems. 

“This project isn’t just about training. It’s about building the power of individuals and communities to become catalysts for change within their local food systems,” emphasized Kristen Whitmore, Special Projects Coordinator at Healthy Hampshire. 

The Food Policy Leaders project marks a significant leap forward in addressing food insecurity while fostering opportunities for participation within Hampshire County. This grant is a testament to the power of collaboration in creating sustainable and inclusive communities.

For more information, please contact: Kristen Whitmore, Special Projects Coordinator Email: kwhitmore@collaborative.org | Phone: (413) 247-4765

Managed by the Collaborative for Educational Services, Healthy Hampshire builds communities that support nourished, active, and joyful residents who are empowered to shape the places they live and the lives they lead. The Hampshire County Food Policy Council is coordinated by Healthy Hampshire, in partnership with various institutions across Hampshire County.

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