The Mason Square Food Justice Initiative aims to create an equitable food system that would allow access to affordable, quality food for all in Mason Square. Mason Square Food Justice Initiative has partnered with agencies and organizations that include the Mason Square Health Task Force, Partners for a Healthier Community, Gardening the Community, the State Street Corridor Alliance, Rebuild Springfield, DevelopSpringfield and MassMutual in its effort to change the food landscape in Mason Square.
The MSFJI Mission:
- Undo lack of access to nutritious foods in Mason Square, which was deemed a food desert in 2008 based on surveys and research.
- Create community unity & valuing across races/ethnicities.
- Identify and challenge unjust and historically racist practices, programs, systems and public policies that limit access to healthy food options in order to improve health of the community.
Strategic objectives include:
- Educate and engage residents about access to healthy food = Health.
- Educate and engage residents about Undoing Racism.
- Increase public policies.
- Mobilize/organize community residents to undo racist food environments and systems.
In the past two to three years, the Mason Square Food Justice Initiative has surveyed residents on:
- Where do they shop
- When do they shop
- How much do they spend
- How do they get to the grocery store
- What type of store they want in Mason Square
The survey findings indicated that:
- people want a full line grocery store in the Mason Square community,
- people want local hiring for employment at full line grocery store in Mason Square,
- people want local builders to construct a full line grocery store in Mason Square,
- people want culturally appropriate food at a full line grocery store in Mason Square, and
- it must be centrally located in Mason Square.
- The Mason Square Food Justice has engaged over 800 residents who signed a petition for equitable food access and has surveyed 1,200 people in person, or online.
And the work continues:
- Learning about New Market Tax Credits
- Meeting with Grocery Store Operators
- Creation of a transportation system from Mason Square to full-line grocery stores outside the area
- JUST FOOD and “Wish You Were Here” Campaigns
- Continue pounding the pavement
- Increasing partnerships
- Securing the land needed for the grocery store site located in between intersections of Union, Oak, Walnut and State Streets
Mason Square Health Task Force
Wanda Givens, director
Dunbar Y Family & Community Center
33 Oak St., Springfield, MA 01109
Partners for a Healthier Community
Jessica Collins, director of special initiatives, 413-794-7739
280 Chestnut St., Springfield, MA
Gardening the Community
Anne Richmond, director, 413-348-8880
PO Box 90774, Springfield, MA 01139
Concerned Citizens for Mason Square
Synthia Scott-Mitchell, director, 413-263-6500
Tasha Moultrie-Phillips, coordinator
Mason Square Farmers Market, 11 Wilbraham Road, Springfield, MA
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
Christina Maxwell, director of programs
97 N. Hatfield Road, PO Box 160, Hatfield, MA 01038
Holy Trinity Church of God in Christ
Rev. J.P. Morgan, pastor
57 Bay St., Springfield, MA 01109
Jay Minkarah, President and CEO
1182 Main St., Springfield, MA 01103