Is WIC an Option for Corner Stores?

Ashley talks with some some people at Linden Market.

Over the summer of 2016, CLF’s Map Team interns visited every known food store in Baltimore City to collect data for the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI)—but they also took time to interview some of the store owners and learn about their challenges and successes. Here’s the second of those stories. 

Of the approximately 621,000 people living in Baltimore, 25 percent live in food deserts. Within the span of three months, my HFAI team visited roughly 1,000 food retail outlets in Baltimore. We went into corner stores, small groceries, supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies, visiting between 60 and 90 stores every week. Read More >

The Impact of Fresh Food in Corner Stores

Over the summer of 2016, CLF’s Map Team interns visited every known food store in Baltimore City to collect data for the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI)—but they also took time to interview some of the store owners and learn about their challenges and successes. Here’s the first of those stories. 

This summer my fellow CLF interns and I visited every food store in the city, from tiny gas stations selling only peanuts and soda, to organic supermarkets selling sustainable grasshopper flour desserts, to every corner store in between. In addition to the variety of data Read More >

Urban Farm Makes Huge Strides: Whitelock Community Farm

What began as a “guerilla gardening” project in a Baltimore food desert now operates as a legitimate urban farm that fulfills several important community functions.

In March 2010, members of Baltimore’s Reservoir Hill neighborhood began gardening in an abandoned public lot on Whitelock Street. They hoped to cultivate the lot as a community gathering space and as a source of fresh produce in the neighborhood. With only one supermarket, Reservoir Hill is a recognized food desert, meaning residents do not have easy and affordable access to healthy foods. Read more about the history of Whitelock and Reservoir Hill in this previous blogpost. Read More >

Nutrition Programs: How Many Spending Cuts Can We Afford?

U.S. National Archives | 1941

In the midst of economic instability, it’s become clear that funding for major federal programs will be subject to cuts, and nutrition programs are no exception. Perhaps cuts are unavoidable, but it is essential that we examine their potential impact on public health.

According to a recent USDA Economic Research Service report, more than 50 million Americans, including 17 million children, were food insecure in 2009, meaning they were uncertain of having enough food or unable to acquire enough food for their household members. Food insecurity and hunger can have far-reaching consequences—numerous studies suggest that children in food-insecure households have higher risks of health and development problems than children in otherwise similar food-secure households. Any changes to these nutrition programs must not undermine the safety net they provide for millions of Americans. Read More >

Food & Dignity

“So, where do the leftover veggies go?” It’s a common question around here, especially on Tuesdays.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) operates a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, connecting students, faculty and staff with fresh, organic, Maryland-grown produce. Those who have paid upfront for a share of the season’s harvest at Maryland’s One Straw Farm stop by the JHSPH parking garage every Tuesday to pick up their shares.

At the end of the day, at least a dozen crates of unclaimed produce remain.  Some folks just aren’t crazy about, say, chard, but CLF and One Straw Farm donate most of the extra shares. Since August, we’ve been sending this produce to the Franciscan Center of Baltimore, an outreach agency that has been providing emergency assistance and support to those who need it for 42 years-and serving hot meals for 30. On a typical day, the Center serves 400 meals. At the end of the month, when SNAP benefits run out, the number runs closer to 600.

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In the Franciscan Center kitchen with the cooks

Last week, I had the privilege of visiting the Franciscan Center with two of my colleagues. We were met with a warm welcome from Ed McNally, the new Executive Director of the Center. An attorney and former Roman Catholic priest, Ed stressed the importance of treating each client with respect. One of the main goals of the Franciscan Center is to recognize the dignity of each human being, and this intention is apparent: the facility is immaculate and the staff and volunteers tremendously kind. A mural brightens the dining room and positive messages throughout the building uplift passers-by. The Center has an open door policy: rather than requiring proof of homelessness or unemployment, the staff and volunteers welcome as many clients as they can accommodate.

Ed stressed the importance of serving fresh, healthy food in an emergency assistance setting like this one. Read More >