Poughkeepsie Journal (New York)
BYLINE: By, John Davis
The fact that over one in four of the 12,400 households in the City of Poughkeepsie do not have easy access to nutritious, affordable food is unacceptable to Susan Grove and a host of others organizing to take action.
This 26.8 percent rate of food insecurity is higher than both the national rate of 14.5 percent and 17 percent for the major metropolitan inner cities, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.
These results of a recent citywide survey are fueling the organizers to transform Poughkeepsie into a city where everyone can secure and benefit from healthy food.
“We believe the potential exists to provide food security for all,” Grove said.
She is the executive director of Poughkeepsie Farm Project, a nonprofit that works toward developing a just and sustainable food system in the Mid-Hudson Valley. The organization is collaborating with several other group partners on Poughkeepsie Plenty, an initiative to ensure that all city residents have access to nutritious food.
Poughkeepsie Plenty organizers are holding a community forum June 23 to discuss ways to improve access across the city to affordable, nutritious food.
The coalition in 2011 landed a $99,311 Hunger-Free Communities Grant from the federal agricultural agency. One of 10 projects to qualify for the highly competitive grants, Poughkeepsie Plenty used some of the funds to conduct the citywide survey.
Leonard Nevarez, associate professor of sociology at Vassar College, oversaw the survey. It took 18 months to complete, involving about 100 volunteers visiting 359 households, selected at random across the city.
The survey also identified factors related to difficulty in accessing healthy, affordable food, Nevarez said. These include income levels, race and car ownership.
“It’s not that people are not close to food, but can’t afford it,” Nevarez said of the city’s small markets and convenience stores.
The study also looked at where city residents buy most of their food. The arrival on Main Street last year of Associated Supermarket, the city’s first large corporate-owned grocery store in two decades, improved food access for some. But its location on the eastern end of the city makes it beyond “walkable” for most residents, based on federal agricultural agency standards, Nevarez said.
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