UEP Colloquium: Fair Food Access Is Urban Planning

The second installment of UEP’s Fall Colloquium series, hosted by the Food Systems Planning Coalition, featured Joan Squeri, founder of Healthy Communities Capital Consulting.

Bringing together farmers, urban planners, public health officials and business owners, HCC Consulting aims to work around the barriers of getting healthy, local food to urban communities. The opportunities and benefits, as well as the general excitement surrounding farmers markets, make working on this an important task.

Squeri touched on many of the barriers facing equitable food access:

  • Legal restrictions around food vendors on private property
  • Lack of municipal support
  • Burdens on farmers in transporting their products to the market
  • Lack of adequate planning in the implementation of farmers markets
  • Difficulty incorporating the SNAP program

Many farmers markets have waiting lists of vendors trying to bring their products to new customers, while hasty implementation of other markets have left some farmers worse off. Issues of perceived exclusivity mean that farmers markets are frequently seen by residents as something for foodies, not for “regular people” or the community at large.

HCC Consulting seeks to bring all parties to the table in an effort to spread the benefits of the farmers market equitably. Members of the audience discussed how Shape Up Somerville and ‘Reverse’ Food Trucks have been/could be influential in improving fair access to healthy food.

Next week’s colloquium (10/8) will be a special afternoon meeting of the four Massachusetts urban planning programs regarding affordable housing in hot market areas. The rest of the schedule can be found here:

Fall 2014 Colloquium Schedule