In Worcester we’ve got an inner-city farmers market that refuses SNAP cards, that won’t let senior citizens buy bread with their farmers market coupons …

… This is what gentrification does to an inner-city neighborhood – locks the neighborhood’s poor residents out, does NOT reflect the neighborhood’s racial diversity, keeps racial diversity OUT of the picture! Which is just one of the many reasons we support REC farmers markets and programs – local food for ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME. SNAP cards accepted at REC farmers markets, and low-income seniors can buy bread with their farmers market coupons, too! The people who actually live in Worcester’s inner-city neighborhoods can make REC farmers markets their own – come and shop and enjoy. As can any person in Worcester. Or Worcester County.

A FOOD HUB is another REC project that is RIGHT for Worcester/Worcester County and RIGHT for local farmers.

With so many of Worcester’s kids poor and lacking the healthy foods to develop their minds and bodies, have good days at school/home/the community, etc we can’t wait for the phony gentrification brigade to support food hubs, to really work to meet the nutritional needs of Worcester’s poor. And there are thousands of impoverished folks, many working minimum wage service jobs, here in my beloved city. The gentrifiers don’t understand that lots of inner-city families do not have the money, especially at the end of the month, to buy food. Rent, bills, other stuff gets paid first. Often times food is last on the list. And often times low-cost supermarket produce is out of reach because the supermarkets are PHYSICALLY out of reach –  not located in the inner city. And for many poor families, supermarkets are only accessible by bus or cab or long hikes. Many poor folks don’t have cars! This is something the out-of-touch gentrifiers do not get. At all! (Or maybe they’re just too narcissistic to really care …)

We get that a FOOD HUB is a BIG answer to this Gateway City’s BIG nutrition challenge. When it comes to helping poor families be healthy – especially little kids, Worcester’s FUTURE, we need to step up and do the right thing. Accept SNAP cards.  Let old people buy bread with their market coupons. Build a food hub.

Here’s a FOOD HUB update from Congressman Jim McGovern’s office. FOOD JUSTICE NOW!  – Rosalie Tirella

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Congressman Jim McGovern has been passionate about ending hunger in this country, and around the world, for many years.  More recently, in his role on the House Committee on Agriculture, he has become well acquainted with the challenges and accomplishments of our farmers here in his district.

The Food Hub initiative presents an opportunity to address the issues of hunger in the region and the desire to support a vibrant, profitable agricultural economy in Worcester County.  The hope is that the Food Hub initiative will achieve multiple goals, including addressing food justice challenges and the economic development needs of the agricultural community in our region.

By way of background, it is important to note that the vast majority of farms in CD2 are considered small farms, 65 acres or less.  One of the greatest challenges small farms have is making their product accessible to the market.

There are presently about 300 food hubs in 45 states that generally coordinate key logistical functions such as the aggregation and storage of product; processing, often including the production of value-added products; marketing; and distribution. Food hubs can help eliminate barriers that make it difficult for small producers to meet the requirements of institutional or retail consumers. They can also sell directly to consumers through retail outlets or mobile markets.

Over the past two years or so, the effort to explore the idea of a food hub in Worcester County has gained momentum.  

In October of 2014, the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), partnering with the Regional Environmental Council and Clark University announced it had received a $25,000 grant from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s Local Food Promotion Program. The grant will allow CMRPC and its partners to investigate the feasibility of establishing a regional food hub …

In addition, the Regional Environmental Council applied for, and received, a Health Foundation Synergy Initiative planning grant from the Health Care Foundation of Central Massachusetts in the amount of $161,650 to undertake the Worcester Regional Food Hub Planning year.

Recently, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has agreed to participate as a co-Project Director along with the Regional Environmental Council to work to develop a plan for a regional food hub.

RRC’s Brian Monteverd has been hired as the full time Project Coordinator for the Worcester Regional Food Hub Project. Brian holds an MA in Community Development and an MBA in Social Change–both from Clark University –and wrote his master’s thesis on prospects for a regional food hub in Worcester.

He has also been working for the REC in their Food Justice Program for the past few years—with a special focus on developing our Mobile Farmers Market program.  Brian and Steve have both enrolled in the “Food Hub Management Certificate Program” newly offered by the University of Vermont.