Healthy Food Access: Improve Resident Health, Save Site Money
By Carolyn E. Zezima, Esq.
Residents at assisted sites often have difficulty finding affordable and healthy food. Assisted sites are often located in neighborhoods where food options are limited to convenience stores, liquor stores, or fast food restaurants that offer low-cost but unhealthy snacks and meals. Supermarkets, grocery stores, and other retailers that offer fresh produce and other healthy food choices either may be miles away, making it difficult for residents without transportation to shop for healthier options, or may be too expensive for low-income residents to afford the healthy food.
Indeed, low-income residents who try to buy more produce and other healthy food can spend a disproportionate amount of their monthly income on food, making it more difficult to pay their other expenses. They often must make difficult monthly decisions, whether to use their limited income to buy food or to pay other household expenses, such as their share of the unit’s rent, utilities, healthcare, telephone, and transportation costs to get to or look for work, says Jan Kasameyer, resident services program supervisor at Home Forward, the housing authority in Portland, Ore.
Many residents rely on monthly Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to purchase most or all of their family’s food for the month. Unfortunately, those dollars aren’t usually enough to pay for more expensive healthy food and residents have to stretch their food dollars with unhealthy processed items. Facing these challenges, it’s no surprise that low-income residents have dramatically higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases and related healthcare costs than the general population, says Home Forward’s community planning research fellow, Aniko Drlik-Muehleck.
Owners and managers of affordable housing sites are in a unique position to provide greater healthy food access to their residents, says Bomee Jung, deputy director at Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise) in New York City. Many owners and managers recognize how important fresh food access is for the health and well-being of their residents and are adding healthy food access programs to the amenities and services they offer their residents. We’ll tell you how increasing healthy food access will benefit your site and give you information about the types of food access programs you can consider creating at your assisted site.
Benefits to Site Owners
Increasing healthy food access provides numerous benefits to residents and assisted sites. Among the reasons our experts gave for creating food access programs include:
- Healthier residents;
- Lower turnover costs;
- Fewer resident conflicts;
- Improved site security and safety;
- Lower food costs for residents;
- Fewer delinquent rent payments;
- Lower vacancy costs from resident long-term illness;
- Better economic mobility opportunities for residents; and
- Improved marketing appeal and community relations for the site.
Many new construction and major rehabilitation developers now include food access programs in the site’s design and planning, such as integrating or locating near healthy grocery stores and farmers markets. That's because owners can get incentives through financing, zoning, and green design programs, as well as state or federal tax credits under programs like the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and the New Market Tax Credit programs, says Shaina Burkett, Human Services Program Specialist at the Denver Housing Authority (DHA), which offers numerous food access programs for residents of Denver’s public housing, tax credit and other assisted sites. For example, Enterprise’s Green Communities program recently developed healthy local food access guidelines for affordable housing developers in New York to use to add healthy food access to sites that can give them priority or extra points on federal and state financing applications.
WAYS TO PROVIDE HEALTHY FOOD ACCESS
The Insider spoke with food access experts and assisted site owners and managers around the country. They identified numerous food access program options that you can choose from to help get fresh, healthy food to your residents—often for little or no expense to your site. These programs fall into five major categories:
- Growing food on site;
- Operating or connecting residents to farmers markets and other healthy food markets;
- Organizing food delivery programs;
- Providing onsite meals; and
- Offering nutrition education and community kitchen programs for residents.
We’ll tell you more about your options under each type of program.
Growing Food on Site
Growing food directly on site is one way that sites make fresh, healthy food available to residents, either by making it possible for residents to have their own gardens or even running a farm on or near site premises.
Community gardens. Many assisted and public housing sites have added community gardens for residents to grow food. Resident community gardens are shared spaces at assisted sites where residents gather to garden and grow food. They can range in size from one communal raised bed to hundreds or thousands of square feet of individual plots to several acres. They can serve just a few residents or as many as 50 or more, and can serve special populations of residents, such as seniors, youth, or residents with disabilities. HUD specifically encourages and supports assisted sites to start community gardens in its Neighborhood Networks program. For more information about how to start a community garden at your site, see “Take 10 Steps to Create a Successful Community Garden for Residents,” available here.
Urban/onsite farms. Some sites take the idea of growing food on site even further and have full-blown production farms on site grounds or even on rooftops. These farms grow a diverse array of vegetables, flowers, and herbs for sale. Onsite farms often generate income to benefit the residents by using the proceeds to pay residents to help run the farm or selling food to residents at a reduced cost, giving vegetables to residents as “payment” for volunteering on the farm, or for use in onsite meals programs. Many sites use their farms to teach classes, empower residents towards self-reliance, and train youth for employment.
For example, Project HOME in Philadelphia grows most of its fruits and vegetables for its meals program, using them fresh during the season and freezing them for use during the winter. Growing food on site also helps keep the site’s budget stable as other food costs increase, says Carolyn Crouch-Robinson, Project HOME’s director of residential services. Any produce that doesn’t get used in meals goes to residents who have no income at all to supplement their meals, she adds.
These farms are often run by residents and managed by partner organizations with the expertise to grow and sell produce and train residents. Homeword in Missoula, Mont., partnered with Garden City Harvest to create a 1.5-acre farm at Orchard Gardens, one of its assisted sites. The farm produces over 16,000 pounds of produce each year and is run entirely by residents who volunteer on the farm and are “paid” in vegetables, says Jean Zosel, executive director.
Similarly, Rockford Housing Authority’s (RHA) Blackhawk Courts in Illinois contracts with Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC) to run its farm. AOLC pays residents “market money,” including youth, when they volunteer at the farm and as an incentive to perform other site services, attend trainings, or take surveys. Five-year-old children at the site save their market money to buy cucumbers and fresh fruit, teaching them important budgeting and other life skills, says AOLC’s program director Danica Hoehn.
Connecting Residents with Onsite or Nearby Markets
Many sites create healthy food markets on site or connect residents to ones near the site benefitting the residents and the site, particularly a new site’s ability to get financing. For example, Enterprise’s healthy food access guidelines for New York encourage developers to locate affordable housing sites within a half-mile of farmers markets.
Farmers markets. Hosting or connecting residents to onsite or nearby farmers markets gives them direct access to a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Farmers markets usually take place regularly, from once a month to several times a week, at outdoor locations where farmers from the area gather to sell their seasonal produce directly to consumers. Some farmers markets are informal networks of farmers, but many are organized by a nonprofit or third-party organizer that collects fees from participating farmers to support the overhead items, such as location, electricity, equipment, insurance, licensing and health permit fees, and other costs of running a farmers market.
Farmers markets can help create economic opportunity for residents and build life skills, says Ron Clewer, RHA’s CEO. Sales of food grown and produced locally have a much stronger impact on the overall local economy than food shipped from far away. Plus, sites and farmers can hire residents to staff the booths, or pay them in produce. They are also a great way to bring the surrounding community together to interact with residents and improve the site’s image and relationship with neighbors, Clewer adds.
If you own or manage multiple sites, you can host a farmers market at your main management office, says Beth Keel, sustainability initiatives liaison for the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA). SAHA operates a farmers market twice a month outside its main office, where residents come to deal with management for most of their housing needs. Or if you don’t have the space or capacity to host a farmers market, you can partner with a farmers market in the area and promote it to residents in meetings, with flyers and newsletters, says Keel.
Make sure when starting or connecting residents to a local farmers market that the residents on SNAP can use their monthly benefits to pay the farmers, says Kasameyer. Setting up the ability to pay with SNAP can be a cumbersome and expensive process, so many farmers market organizers do this on behalf of all the farmers at the market by setting up “electronic benefit transfer” (EBT) accounts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and purchasing EBT machines that accept SNAP for payment. Often, the market has an EBT booth where shoppers can use their SNAP card to purchase chips to pay the farmers for their food. The farmers cash in their chips at the end of the market day or get paid monthly from the market organization’s main office. For more information on how to accept SNAP at farmers markets, see http://www.fns.usda.gov/ebt/learn-about-snap-benefits-farmers-markets.
Editor’s Note: One downside to farmers markets can be the cost to residents. Fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms often cost more to produce and sell than other foods, especially fast and mass-produced food items. So the federal government, and many states and cities, have created incentives to help low-income residents afford to buy more fruits and vegetables. For example, residents on SNAP or WIC benefits can get vouchers to use at farmers markets that match a portion of the residents' benefit dollars or add a set dollar bonus to increase the amount a resident can spend for fruits and vegetables. Find out if your local farmers market has vouchers for residents to use and help residents get those vouchers so they can increase their healthy food consumption, says Kasameyer.
Onsite healthy grocery stores. Federal, state, and local governments encourage building healthy grocery stores in communities that lack healthy food access by offering financial assistance and other incentives for developers. Many new assisted sites include healthy supermarkets and other grocery stores in plans for their site’s commercial space to get priority for federal and local tax credits and other financing. And existing sites with empty commercial space that partner with grocery developers and other organizations can get funding to add healthy grocery stores through programs, such as the federal Healthy Food Financing Initiative (http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/grantOpportunities.aspx), the Low Income Investment Fund (http://www.liifund.org/programs/healthy-food/), organizations like The Food Trust (www.thefoodtrust.org), and state and local healthy grocery funding and incentive programs.
But you don’t have to invest in a big supermarket or large retail initiative to add a healthy grocery store to your site. Home Forward in Portland worked with a local food organization to help residents create and run their own small nonprofit healthy corner store in the middle of one of Home Forward’s HOPE VI sites. The store, called Village Market, carries a full line of food products—including a large produce case, bulk food such as beans and brown rice, meats, dairy, deli items, and ethnic specialties appealing to the large immigrant and refugee population—grown and prepared by local farmers and food producers, says Kasameyer. The store accepts SNAP and WIC and provides jobs for youth and residents, who handle the store’s inventory, purchasing, and sales with management and support of the site’s partner, Village Gardens. The store also hosts a regular farmers market outside that sells organic produce from one of Home Forward’s small onsite farms, employing youth who plant, harvest, and sell the produce.
Practical Pointer: Some sites that don’t have farmers markets or healthy grocery markets on or near their site will provide or coordinate low-cost transportation and other support to get residents to healthy markets. You can use staff to drive residents, but many cities have free transportation for senior and disabled residents to get them to farmers markets and healthy grocery markets, says Kasameyer.
Mobile markets. If you don’t have commercial space or the capacity to open a full grocery store or farmers market at your site, find out if mobile healthy food markets or other healthy food trucks operate in your area. Mobile markets operate out of large trucks or vans, selling produce and other healthy food, often to low-income neighborhoods with few healthy food retail choices nearby. The vans sell food for individual purchase or as part of a membership or weekly produce box delivery (see food delivery options below for more information). For an example and photo of a mobile healthy food market created for FoodShare Toronto, see http://architecturelab.net/mobile-good-food-market-toronto-canada-lga-architectural-partners/.
Onsite emergency food pantry. Running onsite emergency food pantries for residents is another way sites make food available for little or no cost to the site. You can run a small, informal food pantry using staff and volunteers, who seek donations from local churches, agencies, and food banks, says Kasameyer. Some sites make canned and other packaged food available to residents on request. Others have regular food pantry days in the community rooms where the food pantry drops off food staples, such as canned fruit and vegetables, rice, tuna, and soups.
Often a site’s service coordinator oversees and gives residents a stipend to distribute the food. For example, Project HOME has launched a 30,000 square foot wellness center that includes a large daily food pantry to collect and distribute canned food, along with fresh produce from local gardens.
Managing Programs Yourself vs. Contracting with Partners
A growing number of assisted sites have a staff and budget for programs that help residents get important services and skills to gain employment and become more self-sufficient, including food access programs. Running programs yourself can work if you have the budget and can hire staff with the right expertise, for example, to cook meals using the site’s kitchen and to participate in federally or state-funded meal programs.
It helps if the program can be run with minimal expertise and staff time, using the site’s service coordinator or resident services staff, or with resident volunteers, such as an onsite food pantry. But for food access programs like onsite farms, farmers markets, or community kitchen programs, starting and running them yourself can cost you more money and create management headaches, particularly if your site doesn’t have the expertise or time to run them effectively, says Michael Buonocore, executive director of Home Forward in Portland, Ore.
The key to running successful food access programs, particularly if you want to run multiple programs that complement each other and ensure affordable, healthy food access for all residents, is to partner with experienced community organizations to work with site staff and residents to plan, fund, publicize, and manage the food program. It’s important to partner with organizations that are truly based in the community and have existing relationships with other organizations that can support all aspects of the program, says Buonocore.
You may want to partner with several organizations that can contribute to different aspects of the program, such as resident organizing, funding, technical assistance, access to volunteers, transportation, cooking and nutrition classes, and income or vocational training opportunities for residents.
Here are the types of organizations you may want to consider contacting and recruiting as potential partners:
• Community agencies
• Food access organizations
• Nonprofit food organizations
• Technical service providers
• Urban farming and gardening organizations
• Farmers market organizations
• Farmers and food producers
• Grocery stores and distributors
• Hospitals and public health organizations
• Nutritionists and dieticians
• Local chefs and restaurants
• Youth organizations
• Community development organizations
• Green building and food retail financing agencies
• Mayors’ initiatives for food and fitness
• Volunteer service organizations
Organizing Food Delivery Programs
Some assisted sites run or facilitate partner- or resident-run food delivery programs by providing space for storing, packing, and distributing food delivered to the site. These programs include:
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs. CSA programs improve resident access to healthy food by connecting residents directly to local and regional farmers who bring their harvest to the residents. Residents pay a fee at the beginning of the growing season, which entitles them to a share in the farmers’ harvest. Farmers then provide a weekly harvest share that organizers distribute to the residents who participate. Residents get fresh, high-quality local produce and learn more about food and farming while giving local farmers a regular market for their crops. For some considerations for running CSA programs, see "Considerations for Starting or Hosting CSAs and Other Bulk Food Delivery Programs," below.
Bulk purchase programs. Bulk purchase programs allow groups of people or organizations to buy healthy food in bulk to get more for their food dollar. These programs range from fresh produce and other healthy food box delivery programs, food cooperatives (small “markets” owned by and for members who manage purchases and sales together), and bulk buying clubs, which are more informal groups of residents who get together and buy agreed-upon food in bulk to save money, says Debbie Field of Toronto’s Food Share program, which creates toolkits and resources for people who want to set up healthy bulk purchase programs.
Some programs focus just on fresh produce; others provide a full array of healthy food products, including meat, dairy, and pantry items. Unlike CSAs, the food isn’t supplied by one specific farm to support its harvest season, but from a variety of sources, including farms, supermarkets, wholesalers, food banks, and online sources, says Field. If money is tight, some clubs even use donations from food banks or other sources to supplement their bulk purchases.
Other food delivery options. If you don’t have the staff or capacity to run a regular onsite food delivery program, you can partner with a local food bank, or senior or other social service organization that delivers emergency food boxes directly to residents who can’t make ends meet. Emergency food boxes help those residents have some basic food available at the end of the month to feed their families, particularly for residents whose SNAP benefits aren’t enough to buy food for the whole month, says Kasameyer.
Unlike some of the other food access programs, these emergency food boxes usually contain mainly staple items, like canned goods, cereals, breads, and grains. But some cities’ programs do include fresh produce, and occasional even fresh meat or poultry at holidays to make meals more festive, says Kasameyer. Meals on Wheels or other free meal delivery programs are another option for senior or disabled residents who are homebound, or otherwise unable to cook.
Providing Onsite Meals
Meal service programs. Many assisted sites offer onsite meal programs for residents. The type of meal program can vary based on the funding, type, and size of assisted site; whether the meals are mandatory or voluntary—meaning whether the residents must pay for the meals in their share of the rent; the needs of the residents; and the funding sources for the meal programs.
For example, Home Forward operates Congregate Housing Services Programs (CHSP) at several sites, a federally funded program for qualified residents who need support to live independently that includes daily meals. Home Forward contracts with an outside agency that provides the meals at its sites. Project HOME uses site staff to create home-cooked meals at several sites, often using the produce grown in site gardens and nearby urban farms. For HUD rules on mandatory and other meals programs, see HUD Handbook 4350.1, Chapter 31.
Summer lunch for resident children. Some children from low-income families get their only healthy meal of the day when they’re at school. So when the school year ends, that can mean that some children won’t get fed properly until the next school year begins, says Kasameyer. To ensure that children who live at assisted sites get at least one healthy meal a day, Home Forward runs summer food and physical activity programs for resident children that includes a healthy lunch, each tailored to the school district where the site is located. They also run a free weeklong sleepaway camp program for children at assisted sites in Portland that serves three meals a day, which is what the children say they love most about going to camp, says Kasameyer.
Onsite affordable healthy restaurants. The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) has taken an innovative approach to residents’ access to healthy food and economic empowerment: It operates a free culinary academy for youth ages 16 to 21 that then employs graduates to operate an onsite lunch café in the commercial space of one of its HOPE VI sites. The café serves affordably priced, healthy meals made from locally produced ingredients. Most meals cost less than $8 per person, including a drink and a side, and the menu changes daily.
The kitchen is state-of-the-art and energy-efficient, resulting in no additional energy costs to the site, says Damon McIntyre, DHA’s lead coordinator for education and employment services. The café, which has won several local food competitions, gives youth skills toward a career path and self-sufficiency, and economic opportunities for residents, while feeding them healthy and affordable food, says McIntyre. The program is funded with the help of donations from private funders, such as JP Morgan Chase.
Offering Nutrition and Community Kitchen Education Programs
Nutrition education. An important part of healthy food access is knowing: (1) which foods are healthy and which foods are not; (2) how to shop for healthy food on a limited budget; and (3) what to do with types of healthy food that residents haven’t eaten or cooked before, says Crouch-Robinson. Project HOME partners with a local health promotion council and invites dieticians and nutritionists to give one-on-one and group nutrition and cooking education to residents who want or need it. The dieticians also train the kitchen coordinators who run meal programs at several sites how to make the resident meals healthier, she adds.
Some food access programs, such as CSAs or farmers markets, often include nutrition education, healthy recipes, or cooking demonstrations, or even require such education to get benefits such as farmers market vouchers or WIC coupons.
Community kitchen programs. Some sites have community centers that include kitchens that often go unused. Instead, let residents and outside agencies use them to teach cooking to other residents, host healthy meal events, prepare or preserve produce from onsite community gardens or farms, or create food products for sale, job training for youth, and other activities for residents.
Community kitchen programs are a great way to connect residents to healthy food by involving them in the cooking process, says Kasameyer. But before you let staff, residents, and outside agencies use the kitchen, you’ll need to address several legal and management concerns, such as complying with health and safety regulations; avoiding injuries; determining appropriate age groups for classes; setting clean-up responsibilities; and covering food, insurance, equipment purchases and maintenance and other program costs, warns Kasameyer. Discuss these issues with your site’s attorney, and look for future Insider articles on these topics.
Considerations for Starting or Hosting CSAs
and Other Bulk Food Delivery Programs
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and other onsite bulk food delivery programs are a great way to get fresh produce and other healthy food to interested residents who lack healthy food access. But they require a good deal of planning and managing to make sure they operate smoothly and successfully, says Jean Zosel, executive director at Garden City Harvest in Missoula, Mont., which runs an onsite farm and CSA program for assisted residents. Here are key topics to consider when starting or hosting a CSA or other bulk food delivery programs.
1. Finding partners. Find partner food organizations or technical assistance to help determine resident interest and preferences, organize and launch the CSA, find farmers, and help find a pricing that works for your site. In New York City, Just Food is an organization that gives technical support to people and organizations that want to start a CSA.
2. Finding farms to supply the CSA. Assisted sites that have onsite farms sometimes run their own CSAs for residents. For example, the farm at Blackhawk has a few affordable CSA shares for interested residents. But most sites have to find a farmer growing a diverse and season-long array of produce willing to bring the harvest to the site on a regular basis.
3. Pricing. CSAs can be quite expensive, often several hundred dollars for the whole season. But some CSAs make it affordable for low-income residents by using a sliding scale price based on income level, where more expensive CSA shares subsidize lower-priced shares, says Zosel. And in some cities, you can find an increasing number of affordable CSAs specifically for low-income residents where organizers get grants and donations to support the farmer’s costs, let residents pay with SNAP, or let them pay on a weekly basis instead of a lump sum.
4. Recruiting members and volunteers. It’s important to recruit members before the growing season begins so the farmer can know how much to grow for the season and so weekly deliveries run smoothly. If you work with an existing CSA provider to add a delivery location to your site, the provider often has flyers and membership information for prospective resident members and can help you recruit members and volunteers.
But if you don’t work with an existing CSA or partner with a technical advisor who specializes in setting up CSAs, you’ll need to do all the recruiting yourself. This includes drafting a membership agreement that spells out the amount and type of produce or other food in the CSA delivery, the pick-up location, the length of the season, the price and methods of payment (up-front, weekly, SNAP accepted, etc.) and volunteer requirements for members. Some CSAs require members to volunteer at least one week during the season, but you’ll still need to find a group of regular volunteers or use staff to help communicate with the farmer, run the distribution site, and do other tasks to manage the CSA on a weekly basis.
5. Choosing a site distribution location. A community room can be a good location for drop-off and pick-up by residents, but wherever you choose, be sure that the location has an unloading area to pull up in a truck with the food, with few, if any, stairs from the unloading area for volunteers or staff to bring the food to the distribution site. The site should have room to sort the produce for easy distribution and easy clean up, with vegetable bins, tables, sign-in sheets, new member forms, and a refrigerator if the CSA contains meat or dairy or if the drop-off takes place much earlier than the residents’ designated pick-up time.
6. Including nutrition and cooking education. Some residents with long-term lack of healthy food access may have never seen many of the fruits and vegetables in the CSA. CSA organizers and other community partners can help provide nutrition information, cooking demos, and recipes to help members learn how to use and cook their weekly produce.
Healthy Food Access and Funding Resources
Many food access programs don’t cost much for you to run, especially if you work with outside partners, but here are examples of sources that you can use to fund food access programs at your site:
- Grants from partners, local government, health, community gardening, educational, and environmental organizations;
- Private and corporate donations;
- In-kind donations of food, kitchen equipment, educational materials, and volunteer labor;
- Membership fees for CSAs (be sure to check with your HUD office before your charge residents fees to use the community kitchen or other common area for food access programs to avoid violating HUD Handbook rules on extra fees — see, e.g., Handbook 4350.3, par. 6-25 and 4381.5, par. 4-6);
- Sales of produce and food products from urban farm;
- HUD funding, including grant funds for service coordinator, residual receipts, owner’s equity, funds borrowed from the reserve for replacement accounts, rent increases, special rent adjustments, and excess income (be sure to follow HUD Handbook rules regarding use of these sources of funds);
- Fundraising events;
- HUD grants (the HUD website provides a frequently updated list of funding opportunities at: www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/mfh/nnw/fundingopps/fundingopps.cfm.
Here’s a list of Web sites with more information about starting, managing, and funding your site’s food access programs:
- American Community Gardening Association: www.communitygarden.org
- HUD Community Development Block Grant program: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/communitydevelopment/programs
- HUD Neighborhood Networks: www.neighborhoodnetworks.org
- Housing Services Corporation: www.hscorp.ca/our-programs-and-services/social-innovation-and-partnerships/seed)
- Enterprise Green Communities Best Practices Series: Access to Fresh, Local Foods: www.enterprisecommunity.com/resources/ResourceDetails?ID=0088705#sthash.6pEtL5da.dpuf
- Enterprise Green Communities Fresh Local Food Access Toolkit — New York: www.enterprisecommunity.com/resources/ResourceDetails?ID=74962.pdf
- Food at Home: Affordable Housing as a Platform to Overcome Nutritional Challenges: www.enterprisecommunity.com/resources/ResourceDetails?ID=0091729#
- Food Share Toronto: www.foodshare.net/Program-Resources
- Just Food: www.justfood.org/csa/csa-resource-center
- HUD Green Homes and Communities: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/comm_planning/about/conplan/greenhomes
- Policy Link’s Healthy Food Access Portal: www.healthyfoodaccess.org
- W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Food and Community: www.wkkf.org/what-we-do/healthy-kids/food-and-community
About the Author
This Special Issue of the Insider was written by Carolyn Zezima, Esq., who is the president of NYC Foodscape (www.nycfoodscape.com), and a consultant with a track record of grass-rooting and managing organizations in the nonprofit sector. She has worked with food and farming enterprises and food policy organizations in Chicago and New York to promote urban agriculture and regional farming, including founding The Talking Farm, “The Farm with Something to Say,” an urban farming and educational enterprise in Evanston, Ill.
While in Illinois, Zezima also served as director of Chicago’s Green City Market and on food policy councils that helped to create new community farmers markets and draft and pass legislation, such as the Illinois Food, Farm and Jobs Act.
Zezima serves on numerous farming- and food-related committees and boards, including American Farmland Trust’s Farmland Advisors program, Harvest Home Farmers Markets, Partnership for a Healthier Manhattan, and NYC Food Forum. She is currently co-chair of the Food Systems Network NYC policy committee and has co-drafted several food policy and sustainability proposals, including food policy recommendations to include in the revised PlaNYC2030, and the Recipe for the Future of Food in New York City.
Zezima also practiced law after graduating from Duke University School of Law, and is a licensed member of the New York, California, and Illinois bars. She can be reached at email@example.com or (847) 507-1785. She thanks the following experts for contributing their comments to this article:
Shaina Burkett: Human Services Program Specialist, Denver Housing Authority, CONNECTIONS @Mariposa, 1089 Osage St., Denver, CO 80204; www.denverhousing.org.
Michael Buonocore: Executive Director, Home Forward, 135 SW Ash St., Portland, OR 97204; www.homeforward.org.
Ron Clewer: CEO, Rockford Housing Authority, 23 S. Winnebago St., Rockford, IL 61102; www.rockfordha.org.
Carolyn Crouch-Robinson: Director of Residential Services, Project H.O.M.E., 1515 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130; www.projecthome.org.
Aniko Drlik-Muehleck: Community Planning Fellow, Home Forward, 135 SW Ash St., Portland, OR 97204; www.homeforward.org.
Debbie Field: Executive Director, FoodShare Toronto, 90 Croatia St., Toronto, ON M6H 1K9; www.foodshare.net.
Danica Hoehn: Program Director, Angelic Organics Learning Center, 110 N. First St., Rockford, Il 61107; www.learngrowconnect.org.
Bomee Jung, MCP BPI-MFBA: Deputy Director, New York Office, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., One Whitehall St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10004; www.enterprisecommunity.org.
Jan Kasameyer, Resident Services Program Supervisor, Home Forward, 135 SW Ash St., Portland, OR 97204; www.homeforward.org.
L. Beth Keel, M.A.: Sustainability Initiatives Liaison, San Antonio Housing Authority, 818 S. Flores, San Antonio, TX 78204; www.saha.org/NewhousingM/housingmatters11/health.html.
Damon McIntyre: Denver Housing Authority, CONNECTIONS @Mariposa, 1089 Osage St., Denver, CO 80204; www.denverhousing.org.
Jean Zosel: Executive Director, Garden City Harvest, P.O. Box 205, Missoula, MT 59806; www.gardencityharvest.org.