All across Arizona, communities are growing nutritionally. More farmers’ markets are opening in cities statewide, and areas that at first had difficulty finding homegrown and fresh food now have more options close by. A driving force behind this change is the non-profit organization known as Community Food Connections (CFC), based in Phoenix, Ariz.
Cindy Gentry, founder and executive director, started CFC in 2002.
“The motivation was to create opportunities for low-income families, in particular to move beyond needing emergency food assistance by creating programs and developing and supporting policies that increase access to healthy food, while supporting local food production and distribution,” Gentry said.
Since its launch, CFC has gained $600,000 to support two food programs for low-income seniors. They have started a farm-to-school program in Arizona and founded the Phoenix Public Market in 2005.
The Phoenix Public Market, much like Farmers’ Markets across the state, is a unique program and currently the largest open-air market in the state. Local, small-scale agriculture and local artists and crafters showcase their work and products at the market.
“The difference between our market and many of the others is that it is a program of the non-profit Community Food Connections where we are actively working to create jobs, support micro-business development, help keep farmers on the land and create a vibrant gathering place in what has been a blighted area to-date,” Gentry said. “We are working actively to establish a public market like they have in other great cities of the world.”
CFC is in partnership with other non-profit organizations such as Arizona Homegrown Solutions, the Phoenix Permaculture Guild, the Association of Arizona Food Banks, LISC, and St. Luke’s Health Initiatives. Their work and goals are geared towards self-sufficiency rather than the emergency and supplemental support that many other food programs offer.
“Our goal is to help create community food security – focusing on growing the assets of the community to make it possible for every person to have adequate, affordable, safe and culturally-appropriate food at all times that maximize self-reliance and social justice,” Gentry said.
For more information or to contribute, visit www.foodconnect.org.