Helping Jersey City Residents with Food Security
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) is a network of over 500 participating organizations and thousands of individuals carrying out farm and food distribution initiatives in 12 states.
Their mission is to harness the power of a multi-sector regional network to build a sustainable, equitable, and healthy food supply chain across the northeast region, which includes Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.
The main goals of Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group include:
- Cultivate a robust network that spans across sectors and the region.
- Embody and shepherd equity.
- Advance regional interests, sustainability, and healthy community lifestyles.
To promote grassroots collaboration and commitment, they regularly convene sustainable food network stakeholders for conversation, collaboration, networking, information sharing, and advocacy for equitable access to nutritional food sources.
HealthierJC + Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group
For Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, building a Culture of Health is making healthy lifestyle practices an easy and normal choice for people. This means providing all residents and workers in Jersey City with the ability and resources to make healthy, culturally appropriate choices about food, movement, work-life balance, and mental health. It includes everything from creating a walkable city, to incentivizing healthy food businesses to operate in Jersey City, to turning vacant lots into community gardens, to reducing waste and air pollution, to expanding access to mental health services.
The Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group program closely aligns with the HealthierJC goal to expand access to health resources and address disparities in access to healthy food options. In awarding the mini-grant, HealthierJC acknowledged the ongoing contribution of Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group in advancing a progressive urban Culture of Health within Jersey City.
“It Takes a Region” Conference
Pre-covid, thanks to the HealthierJC mini-grant in combination with other contributions, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group held a farm and food network conference in Jersey City called “It Takes a Region”. The conference highlighted the food network issues that challenge food distribution in northern Jersey and the Northeast – directly impacting Jersey City. Held at New Jersey City University, the conference attracted approximately 300 food systems professionals that service the New York tri-state and neighboring east coast regions.
Attendees discussed strategies to overcome financial, structural, organizational and policy challenges to healthy food distribution and access. Based on attendee feedback, “It Takes a Region” provided a meaningful venue to engage like minds, exchange ideas and advance inclusive food equity priorities. This is reflected in the following comments:
“[This] was a lit experience for me, I was able to not only grow more as a facilitator, but I was able to continue learning more about the urban agricultural work as well as the amazing community involved. As we shared our experiences with each other, I felt our connection continuing to grow and felt so relieved and excited to see that I was not alone in this fight. I have a whole community behind my back and it they only make me feel stronger in this fight to reclaim our land.”
– Tommy, Youth Leader & Facilitator
“What surprised me about the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference is the number of attendees who were women or people of color. As a woman of color, I usually find myself in the minority at food system and agriculture related events, so it was refreshing to see my community being embraced… None of this would have been possible for me without the scholarship and free childcare that Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group provided”.
– Asiyah, Conference Attendee
Moving forward, Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group has prioritized increasing fresh food availability for people in this region, and connecting more households with locally grown produce. To build a more robust farm-to-table pipeline, they will focus on providing new opportunities for aspiring farmers in the New York City Metropolitan area, and support their efforts to start and expand farm businesses.
For more information about Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, please visit the organization’s website at https://nesawg.org/