This year 42% of sales were by low-income shoppers
Hunger-Free & Healthy Project Final Presentation
A Project of the Worcester Food & Active Living Policy
2007 – 2011
Hunger-Free & Healthy
Reducing Hunger, Increasing Healthy Food
Celebrate the work and collaboration of the past
Provide indicators of success (to date). Final
report – February 2012.
Project of the Worcester Food & Active Living
Funded through the Health Care and Health
Promotion Synergy Initiative of the Health
Foundation of Central Massachusetts.
Planned in 2007, piloted in 2008 and has been in
its implementation phase since 2009.
1. Support and advocate for the increased availability of
nutritious and locally grown foods in Worcester Public
2. Improve access to healthy affordable foods in low-
income and underserved communities.
3. Increase opportunities for youth and adults to reconnect
with their food through cooking and gardening.
4. Increase knowledge and awareness of community food
security, hunger and inequities in the food system, as
well as strategies to solve problems locally.
5. Ensure the sustainability of the project components.
Hunger-Free & Healthy is a collaborative project that aims
to reduce hunger and food insecurity in the city of
Worcester, Massachusetts. The primary strategy goals are
Congressman McGovern’s Office
The Health Foundation of Central MA
Regional Environmental Council
Saint Vincent Hospital
UMass Medical School
United Way of Central MA
Worcester County Food Bank
Worcester Dept. of Transitional Assistance
Worcester Public Schools
Centro Las Americas
Edward M. Kennedy
Family Health Center of
Mass in Motion
Mass. Public Health
• Pleasant Street
• Worcester Community
• Worcester Department of
• Worcester Housing
• Worcester School
• Worcester State
• YMCA of Central MA
• YWCA of Central MA
1. Improving school meals in Worcester Public
2. Increasing the SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)
3. Establishing farmers’ markets in low-income areas
of the city;
4. Increasing the number of school gardens in
Worcester Public Schools;
5. Offering free nutrition-based cooking classes to low-
income families and teens;
6. Increasing communication and collaboration among
organizations, individuals and institutions involved in
7. Advocating for policies and systems change that
supports this work;
8. Securing on-going funding and support for project
2005 census showing us that in the 14 low-income
tracts in Worcester, 1 in 3 children lived in a household
that at times did not have enough food.
Children get up to two-thirds of their calorie intake in
schools and it is important that those calories be
healthy and nutrient-dense. Project Bread, 2006.
WPS feeds around 15,800 student lunches, 9,500
breakfasts, and 1,400 snacks each day at 60 different
Meal participation rate is at about 70% and roughly
72% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch.
Universal Breakfast Program
Now in 16 schools, all have 80% or more
Free/Reduced eligible students.
General Support & Advocacy
Locally grown produce
Improvements to the healthfulness of the school
meals program and snack programs.
With this community support, the School Nutrition Director
Increased the number of schools participating in the
Universal Breakfast program, bringing the total to 16.
Increased the number of schools participating in the Get
Fresh, Get Local snack program, bringing the total
participating schools from 4 to 10.
Modified her contract with Preferred Meals to require
them to purchase locally when in season, provide fresh
fruit and vegetables at least four days per week, and
ensure that 90% of bread products are whole grain.
Diversified her procurement to incorporate more local
vendors and more nutritious foods.
Advocated for Garelick Farms to remove high fructose
corn syrup from their flavored milk lines.
In addition, Hunger-Free & Healthy has:
Participated in the School Health Council
subcommittee to revise and update the district
Advocated for the passage of the School Nutrition
Bill. This legislation also increased the limits of
purchasing locally, allowing school districts to
develop contracts of up to $25,000 per farm.
SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)
Crucial for low-income families to establish food
In 2004, of the estimated 659,000 Food Stamp
eligible people living in Massachusetts, 49% were
enrolled in SNAP; this statistic ranked
Massachusetts as one of the poorest performing
states in SNAP participation.
April 2009 – August 2011
Number of applications submitted 493
Average approval rating 62%
Average benefit procured $185/month
2009 (May – Dec)
2011 (through August)
Children served 261
Increasing number of applicants, contacts and site
visits over time.
Approval rating has stayed steady.
Cumulative benefits increases yearly.
Increasing improvement in reaching minority
communities (specifically Black and Latino)
More children reached each year.
Massachusetts has risen to 8th in the nation in SNAP
participation rates, with nearly 77.6% of eligible
households participating in the program.
Low-income neighborhoods in
Worcester have more food
insecurity, higher rates of diet-related
disease, less access to fresh foods.
Existing farmers’ markets were not in
low-income areas and did not accept
Main South Farmers’ Market
Piloted 2009, Full season 2010, 2011
Great Brook Valley Farmers’ Market
Full season 2010, 2011
Transitioned to mobile market in Sept. 2011
2009 Total Sales 2010 Total Sales 2011 Total Sales
Total Sales 2009 - 2011
Eat more fruits and vegetables because of
Prices are lower or the same as the
Shop weekly or monthly at the market
Survey Highlights 2010
Growing food is a self-sufficiency strategy
Increasing disconnection with where our food comes
1. Fanning Adult
2. Jacob Hiatt
3. Columbus Park
4. May Street
5. Grafton Street
6. Belmont Elementary
7. Greendale Head Start
8. South High
9. Worcester Technical
10. Doherty Memorial
11. Mill Swan Head Start
12. Quinsigamond Village
Engages students, teachers, staff across subjects
and grade levels in hands on learning.
Used both during school and in after school
Produce incorporated into school meals.
Creates partnerships with surrounding
Knowledge of cooking and nutrition can improve health
and save money.
Partnership with Cooking Matters/Share Our
Strength, nationally renowned nutrition-based
cooking curriculum for adults, teens, children.
Free 6-week class for low-income participants
includes weekly bag of groceries and other
Meals based on $10/meal for a family of four.
Taught by volunteer professional chefs and
155 adults and youth have graduated since 2008.
Fanning Adult Learning Center
Worcester Housing Authority
Girls and Boys Club
Dynamy Youth Academy
Participation rate of 80%.
From a random sample of students that participated
during 2009 and 2010, survey data shows that by the
end of the course, graduates reported that:
73% are eating more vegetables
62% are eating more fruits
80% are eating more whole grains
47% are eating more low-fat or fat-free dairy
49% are eating more lean meats
90% improved their cooking skills
93% made an Eating Right Recipe at home
100% would recommend Eating Right to a friend
Director of Nutrition’s commitment
Strengthened Wellness Policy
Participation in Health Council
Legislation: MA School Nutrition Bill
Ongoing outreach through Project Bread and
Worcester County Food Bank
USDA matching funds for outreach
SNAP Working Group
Local SNAP advisory council
Strong relationship with DTA
Advocacy for increased state funds for admin at
USDA Community Food Project Funding
Continual growing success will leverage funds
Advocacy in Farm Bill for Farmers’ Market
Promotion Program funds
REC AmericorpsVISTA position
Building capacity of school garden
Strong partnerships to leverage funds
REC is a satellite partner and has
Mass Promise Fellow
Cooking Matters Massachusetts
Central Mass Coordinator
Growing partnerships with grocery
All our community partners
Health Foundation of Central MA
Evaluators Lynne Man and Stewart
Project Directors Jean McMurray &