Professor Molly Anderson has a vision for a better life for people struggling with food insecurity and a clear, doable plan.
- Bring people to good food;
- Bring good food and food-growing opportunities to people; and
- Design affordable housing with access to good food and food growing opportunities.
1 and 2 -- no problem. But affordable housing? With access to food and other opportunities? Now it all starts to seem pie-in-the sky.
Molly Anderson shared her understanding of the connection between food insecurity and access to other critical services, like affordable housing and medical care, at a Partnership for Strong Communities event at the Lyceum in Hartford in July 2011. Read the story. Watch the video.
Greater New Haven is rich with efforts to bring affordable, healthy food to residents. Farmers' markets and community gardens are plentiful in many towns. City Seed's markets across New Haven are fun, fresh, and a reason to get out of the house early on Saturday morning or leave your desk for a few minutes on a Wednesday afternoon. Grow New Haven brings together people from neighborhoods, nonprofits and businesses to increase growing opportunities and lead a new vision for urban agriculture in New Haven. Efforts, like United Way's partnership with New Haven Public Schools to bring the Food Truck to kids at-risk of going hungry in the summer, are creatively filling gaps to keep people eating well during hard times. It's great work -- and there is more to be done -- but the vision of a food-secure and food-rich city seems easier to imagine than a city and region with an ample supply of affordable housing.
Across New England, the pressures on the housing market make safe, affordable housing seem like an unattainable goal. It's a structural challenge -- as daunting during periods of prosperity as periods of deep recession. It doesn't confine itself to the borders of city or towns, but runs across, over and around our structures for decision-making, financing and implementation. And the startling facts about the sky-rocketing cost of and scarcity of affordable housing highlight the income gap that defines our region.
Connecting the need for individuals and families to have enough healthy food to access to affordable housing helps ground an issue that can seem too big to get our arms around. The recently established Greater New Haven Regional Alliance to End Homelessness is working comprehensively to end homelessness, which means looking hard at the issue of affordable housing. There is plenty of urgency to solve this complex problem, which we can understand by looking at what is (or is not) on the dinner table.