Everett,  November 16 2018

City of Everett, community partners launch first-ever food plan

Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Everett Community Growers (ECG) and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) are proud to jointly announce the Everett Community Food Assessment & Plan. The food plan represents the work, input and perspectives of a diversity of stakeholders involved in articulating a vision for the community’s food system, and it is meant to compel and guide action by municipal officials and staff, allied community organizations and their members, and all Everett residents for whom public health and equity is a priority.

“Through both City programs and Everett Community Growers’ work, progress has been made to start community gardens and to promote healthy eating through the Wellness Center,” said Mayor DeMaria. “But more needs to be done to ensure that all Everett residents have access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate foods.”

His healthy meals program and wellness center have aimed to improve physical fitness and healthy eating in Everett.

Over the course of a year, partners worked to identify what’s working and what’s not in Everett’s food system, learning in particular about school food, food businesses and their workers, community gardens and urban agriculture, and food security. Residents, food business owners and other stakeholders weighed in on their experiences through surveys, focus groups and even photography. 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.

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 myriad cultures and promote health equity and racial equity. As a result, many of the actions called for emphasize inclusive decision-making, multilingual outreach, and improving conditions for those most negatively impacted in the food system.

A key first step will be to establish a Food Policy Council that 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 they will serve as models for Everett’s establishment of a diverse and representative council that will guide local decision-making.

“We believe a Food Policy Council in Everett will be a critical next step in realizing the many goals and actions steps set in motion by the Community Food Assessment,” said ECG Development Coordinator Emily Nink, who is the project lead for the Community Food Assessment. She continued, “With the help of our Advisory Board, we hope to gather a Council that is truly representative of Everett.”

The Community Food Assessment & Plan was conducted in partnership by ECG, the City of Everett and MAPC. Funding support was provided by MAPC, the City of Everett, the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, and the Everett Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

To read the plan, access http://cityofeverett.com/702/Everett-Community-Food-Assessment-Plan. To view the project photos, access https://everettcommunitygrowers.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/photovoice-for-print-1.pdf. To view an infographic about the project, access https://everettcommunitygrowers.files.wordpress.com/2018/11/102918-everettfoodplaninfographic.pdf.