BSHC Executive Director Adela Margules, Liana and Michael Krupp, BSHC Community Health Operations Manager Philly Laptiste at BSHC Farmer’s Market Family Day 2015
How we got to Bowdoin Street in Dorchester started on Brookline Ave in Longwood, with the birth of the third generation of our family. Michael and Liana brought a baby girl into the world in 2014 at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Not long afterward, we began talking witht BIDMC about ways we could give back to the hospital (we had a wonderful experience with the Labor & Delivery team) that fit our interests in food. Given Michael’s work in the food service and restaurant world and Liana’s new role as President of the foundation, getting off on the right foot to how we took our new food justice initiative was important and connecting with impactful partners was key.
In spring of 2015, we made our first grant for our food justice initiative to support the weekly farmers market at BIDMC Bowdoin Street Health Center (BSHC) with the intention of bringing healthy fresh foods into a community with limited access to grocery stores and farmers markets. With our grant, we were able to help build capacity for the Healthy Food Access Coordinator, incentivize farmers and community members to attend the farmers market and pilot an innovative new Healthy Food Prescription Program (HFRx) to increase food access to members of BSHC’s Wellness Center through subsidized food vouchers for the farmers market and healthy cooking classes.
As the 16 week farmers market wrapped up in October 2015, our funds helped:
- increase the number of vendors from 1 to 3
- increase the end of season sales by 178%
- increase weekly attendance by 40%
- increase overall attendance by 152%
- (compared to 2014 stats)
The results of the HFRx Pilot were also impressive:
- HFRx program members represented 20% of all transactions made at the market
- With an increase of the HFRx voucher from $5 to $10, 100% of the program participants attended the farmers market
- From August 2015, for the remaining 6 weeks of the farmers market, HFRx program participants accounted for 25% of all farmers market transactions
- Qualitatively speaking, a behavioral shift in what kinds of foods program participants purchase speaks volumes to the work that needs to be done in Bowdoin-Geneva
We continued our support of BSHC with a winter grant that helped with planning for the 2016 farmers market season and continued to subsidize vouchers for the HFRx program, honored at the Dorchester Winter Farmers Market and Daily Table.
But this was just dipping our toe in the water. From working with the staff at BSHC, we found a real connection to the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood. We knew that in order to truly make a shift in the neighborhood, we would have to think bigger. With the help and support of BIDMC & BSHC, we began hosting food convenings in December 2015 to think about how organizations already working in Bowdoin-Geneva and the food justice realm can work together to help the neighborhood control its food system and create greater awareness and access to healthy fresh foods. Stay tuned to see how our collaborative efforts come together for 2016.