The HCO increases access to healthy, affordable food that meets the cultural needs of all Providence families, and supports and promotes agricultural activities that increase availability of locally-grown produce, expand green space and improve environmental health and the local economy throughout the city’s culturally rich neighborhoods.
2013-2015: Provided program development and resources leading to a nearly 40% increase in summer meals served to hungry Providence children by the Providence Parks Department. Nearly 180,000 meals are now served each summer.
2014: Completion of the Lots of Hope Urban Agriculture Assessment, identifying city-owned lots to be transformed into urban farm space.
2015: Provided $176,000 in 2015 City of Providence CDBG Food Access Grants to fund development of three new gardens on formerly-blighted land with West Elmwood Housing, Southside Community Land Trust and African Alliance of RI, and renovation of the Genesis Center Culinary Opportunities Center, a high-quality training facility and public-access commercial kitchen.
2016: Mentorship of Cities of Central Falls and Newport led to a 251% increase in summer meals served in Central Falls and a 91% increase in Newport (52,000 meals total). Support and promotion of farmers’ markets led to a 34% increase in SNAP/EBT redeemed at Providence farmers’ markets.
2018: Provided resources and support enabling the Providence Parks Department to offer free suppers for all youth at all of Providence’s Recreation Centers through the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), including development of policies that support healthy eating in and around the Recreation Centers. Produced the Providence Farmstand Guide to help Providence growers sell their produce on site, directly to their neighbors.
2019: Developed goals to improve meal quality and community engagement in the more than 3,000,000 meals/year served in Providence Public Schools. HCO continues to partner and support school meals through the Providence Public School Health and Wellness Committee. Completed the Providence Public Schools Farm to School Plan, to provide local foods, school gardens and food system education to Providence’s 22,000+ public school students. Developed the Inclement Weather and Long Weekend Meals Program to provide take-home meals at Providence Recreation Centers when schools are closed.
2020: Coordinated local educational institutions, non-profit partners and community-serving agencies in the distribution of more than one million meals to children, elders and others facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
2021: Supported the African American Ambassadors’ Food Disparities Group in implementing a distribution program to connect food insecure families with produce from local BIPOC farmers.
For more information about the Healthy Communities Office’s food work, contact Rachel Newman Greene.
Urban Agriculture Resources
- Find a Providence Community Garden
- Find a Farmers’ Market
- Lots of Hope – an urban agriculture assessment with the City of Providence March 2014
- Providence Farmstand Guide – English – Spanish – Francais – Hmong
Appalachian Mountain Club Youth Opportunities Program
Brown University School of Public Health
Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island
Lifespan Community Health Institute
Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism
Providence Recreation Department
Rhode Island Department of Health
Southside Community Land Trust
West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation
US Department of Fish and Wildlife Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership
National Recreation and Parks Association
Neighborhood Health Plan of RI