2022 Local Hero Awardee: Healthy Hampshire

Apr 29 2022

Each year (minus a pandemic year or two), CISA presents Local Hero Awards to farms, businesses, or individuals who exemplify our mission of strengthening farms and engaging the community to build the local food economy. We applaud their hard work, social responsibility, and many contributions to sustaining local agriculture.

Healthy Hampshire is an initiative of the Collaborative for Educational Services, and they work to improve the health of people living in Hampshire County.  Their work includes partnerships with health care professionals to prevent long term health problems, and support for community design that enables active lives, but the area of their work that we’re honoring with this award is focused on making healthy food more available to more people.

Here are a couple examples of Healthy Hampshire’s good work: they’ve supported SNAP matching programs at farmers’ markets for years, which since 2017 has meant supporting HIP, the Healthy Incentives Program. They’ve set up community gardens near affordable housing complexes, developed and supported mobile farmers’ markets, and, most recently, established the Hampshire County Food Policy Council.

Just looking at this list, it’s evident why this work is valuable in filling hunger and accessibility gaps for so many people around the county. But the thing that makes Healthy Hampshire’s work stand out — and that we especially want to honor — is that it does not happen without the engagement, opinions, and leadership of the people who are most affected by the issues they seek to address.

So: the Amherst Mobile Market was born out of a planning process that engaged over 25 people with low incomes, many of whom are people of color and/or Spanish speakers, to develop a plan, and then Healthy Hampshire sought out funding to make that plan a reality.

The community gardens project involves setting up structures of self-governance for the residents who use them. The Food Policy Council started out with an ethos of leadership by the people who are affected by the issues the Council is working on, and that includes stipends and other support so community members can participate.

Caitlin Marquis, Program Manager at Healthy Hampshire, says that these programs aren’t just about distributing food — they’re about putting folks who are experiencing the issue at the center of solving it. So, for serving as a model of participatory problem-solving and community leadership on issues of hunger and healthy food access, CISA is honored to present a 2022 Local Hero Award to Healthy Hampshire.

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