Increasing public and government support for programs to reduce hunger and increase access to more nutritious foods.

Hunger and food insecurity are pervasive problems in communities throughout the Nation.  In Worcester, there is a pronounced health crisis with the prevalence of hunger being 6 times the Massachusetts average. In 14 low-income neighborhoods in Worcester, one child in three lives in a family unable to meet its basic need for food.   In addition, a startling number of residents (24%) are obese.

To address these complex interrelated problems the Worcester Advisory Food Policy Council was formed in February of 2006 by former Mayor, Lt. Governor Tim Murray. It is a partnership of local and statewide nonprofit organizations, Worcester Public Schools and City departments, state agencies, health care providers, colleges and universities, faith based communities, and community members that meet together to discuss issues and projects related to hunger, food insecurity and nutrition. The Council serves as an advisor to Congressman Jim McGovern.

Hunger-Free & Healthy is a project developed by the Council to address hunger and obesity as a community-wide public health problem with creative, community-based solutions that make systemic change and affect public policy.  This project has been made possible through funding from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.   The mission of The Health Foundation is to use its resources to improve the health of those who live or work in the Central Massachusetts region with particular emphasis on vulnerable populations and unmet needs.


  1. Support and advocate for the increased availability of nutritious and locally grown foods in Worcester Public Schools (WPS).
  2. Improve access to healthy, affordable foods in low-income and underserved communities.
  3. Increase opportunities for youth and adults to re-connect with their food through cooking and gardening.
  4. Increase knowledge and awareness of issues around community food security, hunger, and inequities in the food system, as well as strategies to solve problems locally.
  5. Ensure the sustainability of Hunger Free and Healthy initiatives.

Activities have included:

  • School Nutrition: Support for the implementation of breakfast-after-the-bell at two Worcester Public Schools as well as increased nutritious quality of school meals.
  • Gardening: Built the Worcester Educational Garden at the Adult Learning Center of WPS as well as encouraging the development of school gardens throughout WPS.
  • Access to healthy foods: Implemented the Main South Farmers’ Market with the Regional Environmental Council.  Developing the Healthy Corner Stores Initiative with the YWCA.
  • SNAP Outreach: Developed a partnership with Project Bread to have a mobile SNAP/Food Stamp outreach worker in Worcester.  Formed a partnership with UMass Medical Center and St. Vincent’s to do SNAP Outreach in the hospitals.
  • Healthy Cooking: Providing free healthy cooking classes for low-income individuals and families in partnership with Share Our Strength/Operation Frontline.
  • Policy: Hunger Free and Healthy advocates for:
  • Increasing the amount of nutritious, locally produced foods in public schools in Massachusetts and for Farmers to be able to bid on school food contracts.
  • The establishment of a Massachusetts Food Policy Council
  • Hunger-Free & Healthy programs and initiatives to become best-practices in institutions and agencies as strategies for fighting hunger and food insecurity in Worcester.

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