Cooley Dickinson Health Care supports several food systems projects through its community benefit program.
In 2018, a Cooley Dickinson Healthy Communities grant helped Grow Food Northampton – a non-profit that supports both sustainable local agriculture and affordable, accessible healthy food – bring fresh farm produce to low-income housing communities in Northampton, Mass.
That grant helped underwrite a mobile market pilot program that now serves seven locations throughout Northampton. Grow Food Northampton, Cooley Dickinson, and other partners teamed up again in 2019 to continue the program, now called Neighborhood Markets. So far this year the program has served 125 people and distributed fresh produce valued at $25,555.
Grow Food Northampton Director of Programs Michael Skillicorn says Neighborhood Markets are unique because they bring high-quality, fresh produce directly to where people live. “Every subsidized housing community in Northampton will host, or be within walking distance, of a Neighborhood Market,” he says. “This marks a significant achievement for the residents who helped create this program. The community – including Cooley Dickinson – stepped up to make their vision possible.”
Edgardo Cancel, a Hampshire Heights resident and one of the people who helped bring the mobile market to his community, says it’s all about access.
“There are a lot of folks here who are limited as far as transportation,” Cancel says. “This program brings the farmers’ market here; it helps people get a taste of what’s possible in terms of eating fresh and organic. It provides healthier options for everyone.”
Cooley Dickinson Health Care is an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Massachusetts hospitals provided $641 million in community benefits for residents of Massachusetts in Fiscal Year 2018. These hospital community benefits programs – provided at no cost to those being served – are not reimbursed by state or federal governments, by any health insurance company, or through any public subsidy.