The Hartford Food System is a non-profit organization that was established in 1978. Since then, it has been working to create an equitable and sustainable food system in the area - focusing on the causes of hunger, especially issues related to those in poverty and the elderly. Their mission statement is “to fight hunger and improve nutrition for disadvantaged members of our community through sustainable, non-emergency strategies”.
These strategies include partnerships and working relationships with over 20 organizations in the greater Hartford area, releasing some informative publications, and establishing numerous programs for Hartford residents.
One important program is the Healthy Food Retailer Initiative. The Hartford Food System is addressing the problem that there is only one major supermarket in the city, and that many of its residents have rely on corner markets and bodegas for their groceries, which in the past have usually offered less healthy choices. Through the initiative, if store owners agree to switch a portion of their junk food to healthier options, they will receive promotional assistance and grassroots outreach. To find out what consumers want, HFS is working with the UCONN Center for Public Health and Healthy Policy. Since 2006, they have recruited 40 stores to be a part, and have seen an 8% overall shift of junk food to regular groceries in these stores.
Additionally, HFS has established Grow Hartford, a project to “cultivate youth leadership and civic participation through agriculture”. There are currently three sites that function as outdoor classrooms to empower young people, encourage physical activities, foster community action, and provide residents with local and organic fruits and veggies.
To find out more, please visit their website - http://www.hartfordfood.org/