Lawrenceville United (LU) is an inclusive, resident-driven community-based non-profit organization focused on improving quality of life of Lawrenceville residents. Though Lawrenceville is the site of 3 community gardens, an orchard, a thriving Farmers’ Market, and a busy restaurant district, there is still a large population of food-insecure households. One-third of SNAP households in Lawrenceville contain senior citizens, and 90% of students at neighborhood schools are eligible for Free or Reduced School Lunch. Our team is proposing adding a full-time position, the Community Food Advocate, to make sure that these households are connected to existing programs, and to create new programs specific to our target populations. New programs could include a senior carpool and shopping program, and training middle-school gardeners to sell produce at the farmers’ market.
While ensuring equitable access to healthy foods for consumers, we also plan to directly support the local farming community. The Community Food Advocate would provide accessible training programs to help producers decipher regulations, create strong marketing materials, and learn how to sell their produce directly to the community. New programs, such as a workforce development pipeline, would also be implemented in order to ensure the sustainability of our local agricultural community.
The programs and materials created by this position would be shared city-wide through umbrella organizations such as the Food Policy Council and the Penn State Extension. Many communities regionally have high rates of food insecurity, and our goal is to be able to pass along our knowledge about food advocacy and community organizing in order to reach other communities of need. Lawrenceville’s existing food programming and strong community partnerships make it an ideal neighborhood to support this initiative, which has not yet been integrated into any local neighborhood organization. We aim to show the tangible improvements food access, food justice, and food education can make within a community.