Public Health and Equity to be Improved for Food System by New Local Policies

The City of Everett, Everett Community Growers, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council will be developing an action plan to guide food system policymaking and aligned efforts in Everett. Through a participatory process with city representatives, community members and food system stakeholders, the project will assess local food system assets and issues; generate policy and program goals; and prioritize actions to advance public health and equity through improving Everett’s food system.

This project will assess food system employment and businesses to better understand the current conditions and challenges faced and opportunities for improving conditions. In particular, the assessment will seek to engage minority-owned businesses and will include a focus on the New England Produce Center and surrounding food business cluster. For this, the project team will coordinate with MAPC’s staff conducting an economic impact study on the food business cluster.

It will also assess the school food system to better understand the current conditions and challenges faced and opportunities for improving conditions. In particular, the assessment will evaluate school breakfast and lunch programs, farm-to-school programming, and educational gardening programming.

Lastly, this project will explore and evaluate food insecurity in Everett to better understand the conditions, challenges, and opportunities for increasing food security. This will include an assessment of economic and environmental barriers to affording and accessing food, and in particular healthy food. The assessment will also evaluate diet-related health issues and the degree to which these are experienced across race, age, etc. It will also evaluate federal nutrition assistance program participation and emergency food providers.

Mayor DeMaria stated, “The project goals are to develop a plan that identifies actionable policies and programs to improving public health and promoting equity in Everett’s food system. This will increase an understanding of inequities, needs, and assets of the Everett Food system through an assessment, while also increasing investment in improving the Everett food system by residents, town staff, and elected officials; and foster their collaboration.”

With Everett Community Growers as a lead, the project team will develop and implement an engagement strategy that ensures participation and representation from a cross- section of stakeholders. An advisory group will be established and convened throughout the planning process to inform the community food assessment and development of policy and program recommendations.

Finally, a group will participate in a photo project to document food experiences. A selection of the photos will be exhibited alongside policy recommendations for improving Everett’s food system. The project team will hold an exhibit and discussion to share the project results.

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