Good food and good health go hand in hand. With a good food system comes environmental sustainability, social cohesion, and civic engagement. And Everett residents are ready for food system change.
Like many urban areas, the City of Everett faces challenges to providing equitable access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods. Recent demographic shifts and rapid development have posed their own challenges to the City’s food system – which is why MAPC, working with the City of Everett and Everett Community Growers, recently completed the Everett Community Food Assessment and Plan.
Residents, food business owners, and other stakeholders worked over the course of a year to figure out what’s working and what’s not in Everett’s food system, learning in particular about school food, food businesses and their workers, community gardeners and urban agriculture, and food security. A variety of stakeholders weighed in on their experiences through surveys, focus groups, and even photography.
MAPC acted as the co-author and planning technical assistance provider for the plan, digging in on research, organizing meetings and events, collecting and making sense of data, and developing project materials.
Everett Community Growers co-led planning efforts with MAPC in a unique and dynamic partnership. The grassroots food justice organization led community engagement and surveying efforts, identifying town and community stakeholders to engage, identifying and securing meeting space, conducting community and store surveys, analyzing results of primary research, engaging participants in a photography project, and co-authoring the plan.
As the municipal partner and client, the City of Everett offered general guidance throughout the project, helping to shape meetings, project materials, and draft documents and providing valuable information and resources.
A core part of the project engaged local photographer Katy Rogers, who invited residents to view their City as community photojournalists and take pictures that told the story of Everett’s food system. These photos and stories were exhibited this summer on the Northern Strand Community Trail, at “Everett Earthworks,” the site of a newly installed public art installation and garden by MAPC artist-in-residence Carolyn Lewenberg.
In one of the most diverse cities in the Commonwealth, project partners worked to ensure that the changes called for in the food plan would celebrate Everett’s many cultures and promote health equity and racial equity.
As a result, the plan emphasizes inclusive decisionmaking, multilingual outreach, and improving conditions for those most negatively impacted in the food system.
The plan includes 13 goals related to food security, school food, urban agriculture and food recovery, and food businesses and workers. Implementation steps and recommended actions accompany each goal.
A key first step will be to establish a Food Policy Council, which will guide implementation of the food plan. Food Policy Councils are in place in a variety of forms across the country and in Massachusetts, and will serve as models for Everett’s establishment of a diverse and representative council that will guide local decisionmaking. MAPC will be involved in the next step, helping to establish the Council so Everett can start implementing change.
The Community Food Assessment & Plan was conducted in partnership by Everett Community Growers, the City of Everett and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Funding support was provided by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the City of Everett, the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, and the Everett Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.
Everett Community Growers
The City of Everett
MAPC Public Health Staff:
Assistant Public Health Director Heidi Stucker
Research Analyst Sharon Ron
Public Health Intern Kelsey Magnuson
More From the Everett Food Assessment...
Everett Community Growers
Everett Community Growers (ECG) is a program of the Everett Community Health Partnership (ECHP), working to improve health outcomes and increase civic engagement among Everett residents through urban agriculture and other food justice initiatives. Membership is comprised of residents and local organizational leaders committed to food justice. ECG members work to create spaces for growing food in the city, as well as conduct workshops and other community engagement activities aimed at increasing residents’ knowledge and understanding of health equity and food justice. ECG is also engaged in local policy and planning efforts as they relate to food justice in Everett. Our fiscal sponsor is La Comunidad, INC. Find them online here.
To help tell the story of Everett’s food system, we asked community photojournalists to document how they experienced food in Everett. The result was the Everett Good Food for All Photovoice Project. View the full magazine here.
The City of Everett and Everett Community Growers established a community garden and art park, with the MAPC Arts & Culture Division as the project consultant and implementing agency. Everett Earthworks, also called Ripple Effect, is an installation that is intended to promote community building, creativity, food production, and the delivery of a range of social, health, and environmental benefits.