While we are waiting to see the results of Boston Creates, the city-wide survey which will inform a new cultural plan, The Boston Foundation issued its own report in January 2016 on how Boston supports and sustains the arts in comparison to 10 other major US cities.
This infographic from the ICIC (Initiative for a Competitive Inner City) says it all. Dorchester is the most populated neighborhood in Boston, with the only 4 grocery stores in its limits to serve the 114,235 residents living there (down one since March 2016 as the Grove Hall Stop and Shop on the Roxbury/Dorchester boarder suddenly closed). Compare that to Back Bay, which has 2 grocery stores and easy access to 5 more in surrounding neighborhoods, for its population 18,088. Look at the disparities in pricing. While this data compares Back Bay to Roxybury, neighboring Dorchester is not that far off. Essentially, the poorest residents in Boston are paying more money for essential food items than the wealthiest residents of the city. Let that sink in for a moment.
Dorchester is a food desert. Bowdoin-Geneva is one of the most vulnerable areas of Dorchester. Violence, trauma, poverty, isolation, poor education rates, lack of job opportunities. Youth Violence Systems Project has an incredible breakdown of the area’s census stats and history. In the center of it all, of Bowdoin-Geneva, both from a geographic and community standpoint, is the BIDMC Bowdoin Street Health Center (BSHC). By focusing our food justice work in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, we hope to address both the health and economic challenges of living in a food desert by helping the community regain its food sovereignty and return the food system to the people living in the neighborhood.
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.