Vista Leads Nutritious Food Initiative

The Housing Authority of the City of Frederick (HACF) is pleased to welcome Torey Repetski, an AmeriCorps VISTA, who will develop and implement a replicable Nutritious Foods program with a community garden, virtual grocery ordering and delivery service, and education programming for Lucas Village, a public housing community to improve access to healthful food options.

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Frederick, MD (PRWEB) August 09, 2013

The Housing Authority of the City of Frederick (HACF) is pleased to welcome Torey Repetski, an AmeriCorps VISTA, who will develop and implement a replicable Nutritious Foods program with a community garden, virtual grocery ordering and delivery service, and education programming for Lucas Village, a public housing community to improve access to healthful food options.

HACF believes that food security plays an invaluable role in empowering individuals, families and communities, and that access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life includes, at a minimum, available nutritionally adequate and safe foods and an ability to acquire those foods.

Ms. Repetski says that “[she is] honored and excited to get the chance to work with the families in Lucas Village this year. AmeriCorps prides itself on using the ‘hand up’ model of service rather than the ‘hand out’ model - so this year is really about developing a nutritious foods initiative that will create a sustainable healthy environment where families are empowered to make healthy choices.”

HACF hopes to address the consequences of poverty on health and nutrition in Frederick City’s underserved communities with a holistic approach that involves the community in growing food together, distributing nutritious food and increasing access to education and information concerning nutritious foods and healthy lifestyles through the VISTA volunteer led Nutritious Foods Initiative.

The Nutritious Foods Initiative provides empowerment to Lucas Village residents and comprehensive access to nutritious foods along with positive incentives for self-sufficiency. The proposed project will also help strengthen the community by forging partnerships with other agencies, local governments, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses.

In the 92 households (128 adults, 168 children) that make up Lucas Village, the proposed pilot site for this project, 91% of households receive SNAP benefits (food stamps). The average household has 3.2 individuals, most of which are headed by a single parent, with an average household income of approximately $22,000. In 2012, the Federal Poverty Line for a family of three was $19,090. A more realistic measure of what it takes for a local family to survive without public or private support or assistance was attempted in a February 2012 report titled the Self-sufficiency Standard for Maryland 2012 from the Center for Women's Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Services, prepared for the Maryland Community Action Partnership. According to the survey, between 2001 and 2012, annual self-sufficiency costs, which include such factors as the cost of food, housing, transportation, child care, and federal and state taxes, in Frederick County for a family of three with a preschooler and one school-age child increased more than 40 percent to $65,609, more than three times the federal poverty level for three people.

Additionally, Lucas Village residents are in a food desert with no grocer with fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables within one-mile. The USDA ERS report, Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring Food Deserts and their Consequences reports that, “limited access to nutritious food and relatively easier access to less nutritious foods may be linked to poor diets and ultimately obesity and diet-related diseases.” At risk groups include elderly with no access to transportation, time limited households, low-income households that must use limited dollars to own/operate a working vehicle and to purchase gas to travel to a food store or rely heavily on costly taxi service or bus - may take nutritional shortcuts.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy envisioned a national service corps “to help provide urgently needed services in urban and rural poverty areas.” Less than two years later, President Lyndon B. Johnson realized Kennedy's dream by launching the “War on Poverty”. Johnson welcomed the first group of 20 VISTA volunteers saying, “Your pay will be low; the conditions of your labor often will be difficult. But you will have the satisfaction of leading a great national effort and you will have the ultimate reward which comes to those who serve their fellow man.”

The VISTA led Nutritious Foods Initiative has been made possible by a strong partnership between the Housing Authority of the City of Frederick and the Greater Homewood Community Corporation of Baltimore. Additionally, the program is benefiting from a generous grant from the United Way of Frederick County, reaffirming the collective impact needed to address systemic community issues.

The Housing Authority of the City of Frederick is an autonomous, non-profit public corporation created to address the need for low-income housing. The mission of HACF is to provide an array of housing options for our citizens by being committed to supporting strong stable communities. The HACF was created in 1937 to address the urgent need for improved housing in the area, especially for low-income residents.


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