Located below are reports conducted by the Ralph W. Voorhees Center for Civic Engagement related to community food security. This includes urban agriculture, community food hubs, food and economic development, and shared gardens. Please click on the links located on the bottom right of the posts below to view reports and other downloadable information.
New Brunswick is home to many efforts to improve community food security, which is often defined as access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food. Many organizations address community food security in two or more ways. While they may primarily provide food access, they may also work on food affordability, education, advocacy, research, and community economic development. Given the variety of groups engaged and the breadth of food security efforts, it is difficult for anyone to keep on top of all these efforts. To make that easier, Elijah’s Promise, a community food security organization in New Brunswick, asked the Ralph W. Voorhees Public Service Fellows to identify and describe these efforts.
The Fellows’ research provides insights about how organizations and individuals define community food security in New Brunswick, what activities they employ to improve it, and what barriers persist. This report presents the findings. It describes how organizations and individuals improve community security in New Brunswick through education, advocacy, access, community economic development, and research. And it provides an overview of more than 60 community food security programs and concludes with a discussion of ideas to further improve community food security.
The 2013 Voorhees Fellows worked with Elijah’s Promise to prepare a farm-to-freezer guide. Elijah’s Promise asked the Fellows to create a guide to illustrate how and why Elijah’s Promise processes and freezes fresh food. EP freezes fresh food to save money by extending the shelf life of lower cost and sometimes free summer produce, control food quality, to provide organizational flexibility, to enhance job training efforts, and to build a connection with farmers.
The Fall 2012 Rutgers Bloustein Community Development Studio worked with Elijah’s Promise, the New Brunswick Food Alliance, and New Jersey Community Capital to think about how they might build on New Jersey’s existing farming and community development infrastructure to create a community food hub. To do this, the team (1) explored how community food hubs work, (2) mapped NJ’s farming landscape and the direct markets farmers use to get their food to consumers, and (3) identified already existing community food hub functions in NJ and considered how the NB Food Alliance could build on these elements.
The Rutgers Bloustein Spring 2012 Community Development Studio worked with Elijah’s Promise, the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center, and New Jersey Community Capital to explore the potential to create a community food hub in New Brunswick. Food hubs help small and medium-sized farmers reach wholesale and/or retail customers and increases access to locally grown fresh food. They may also include a variety of community economic development programs such as job training and value added production. In this report, the studio team outlined the food-related problems facing farmers and cities, examined New Jersey’s existing food economy, and explored how food hubs could work in New Jersey. The studio team reviewed reports and explored existing food hubs, identified food hub challenges and benefits, and researched the process communities use to create food hubs. Since what a food hub is and how it works is context specific, the team also examined NJ’s existing food infrastructure, specifically addressing the state’s food economy challenges and opportunities. They conclude by highlighting ideas and next steps.
High Tunnels in New Brunswick
In this report, the Rutgers Bloustein 2012 Community Development Studio discusses their efforts to work with community groups to construct high tunnels (fancy hoop houses) in downtown New Brunswick. The team discusses the community vision, the challenges of building downtown, and experiences with an initial effort to add high tunnels to the New Brunswick Community Farm Market on the Rutgers Cook campus.
Rutgers Food Innovation Center
The Spring 2012 Rutgers Bloustein School Community Development Studio conducted a study of the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center (FIC) in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The FIC is a full service food incubator, the only food-related business incubator in the state. It provides core food-processing business services including business development, market testing, product development, networking services, regulatory assistance, quality control and food safety assistance. The FIC is part of a growing effort to enhance food-related economic development. It has well-quantified and documented impacts from the core business and technical services it offers to farmers and food businesses. However, identifying its community economic development impacts has been more elusive. Thus, this report chronicles the impacts of FIC’s broader social mission and catalogues the FIC’s efforts to achieve these goals. To document these less tangible impacts, the team explains the FIC from conceptualization, through implementation and its future plans.
Graduate students and undergraduate Ralph W. Voorhees Fellows worked with Elijah’s Promise, a New Brunswick community-based organization that seeks to alleviate poverty and hunger by providing job training, small business development, education, jobs, and services. They explored the potential to grow and process food in the city, assessed the local market for locally grown food, and considered how urban agriculture can enhance economic development opportunities by identifying food growing models linked to job training, education, and entrepreneurial business development.
Community gardening efforts blossom in New Brunswick as the newly-formed New Brunswick Community Gardening Coalition expands its collaborative mission to share resources, build neighborhood ties, and promote food security throughout New Brunswick, NJ. In her final semester as an undergraduate at Rutgers University, studying all things politics, policy, and planning, Alena D’Auria dug deeper into the gardening coalition’s goals and growth and traced the successful community development strategies at play.
Alena’s research interests include community development initiatives pertaining to equity, accessibility, and value-added production within low-income neighborhoods. After graduation, Alena moved down to Atlanta, GA to expand upon these interests and pursue her Masters in City and Regional Planning. A full-blown “foodie,” she hopes to one day open her very own community café and raise awareness around issues of food security in urban centers.