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Working for Food Justice in Springfield MA (USA)

"Working for Food Justice" tells the story of the Mason Square community in Springfield, Massachusetts working to improve the food environment as a means to reducing rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and hunger. The Mason Square Health Task Force (MSHTF) is a community coalition working to eliminate racial health inequities in Mason Square through information sharing, capacity building & policy change.

Their vision is for organizations and residents to work collaboratively, to advance racial justice and in so doing significantly improve the health and the well-being of the entire community. Their efforts include engaging and educating Mason Square residents, organizations and policy makers to organize and advocate for a full-line grocery store and year round farmer’s market.

This grassroots group engaged residents to intensify demand with specific requests about what type of grocery store was desired.  With this information they brought in national experts and convened economic development, public health and planning stakeholders to highlight and present a new paradigm for development in Springfield. This paradigm  has residents involved with the planning, development and ultimately the service that a full line grocery store will provide in their neighborhood. This combined stakeholder group’s voice countered any deferral from prospective grocery stores who believed there was no market for a grocery store in this lower-income community of color.

This video shows the ingenious organizing that they launched to bring a supermarket to Mason Square. Well worth watching, these folks are an inspiration.

This work was supported by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Center for Health Equity and Social Justice and their New England wide work health equity, and racial justice.

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Keywords: food security, justice, community psychology, gjcpp