Camden Food Economy Strategy
In December 2015, DVRPC released Cultivating Camden: The City's Food Economy Strategy. Cultivating Camden is based on the ongoing work of DVRPC, the Campbell Healthy Communities program, and The Reinvestment Fund. It grew out of a desire to better understand Camden's food system so that food system actors, stakeholders, and funders could be more strategic, coordinated, and effective in their work.
Cultivating Camden seeks to build off of Camden's existing assets by identifying opportunities to increase food access and economic opportunities within the city. It analyzes the city's current food system and food economy, acknowledging the challenges that residents face in accessing healthy food, while at the same time making recommendations to grow food as an economic sector; increase opportunities for food entrepreneurs; engage Camden's institutions; and support organizations already working to increase access to healthy food, healthcare, and job opportunities.
The following are the strategy's Top Recommendations for Camden City, as prioritized by numerous stakeholders. They are organized by implementer group (but not in ranking order):
- Institutions: Implement FreshRx Programs with vouchers for healthy food and integrate nutrition education at each hospital in Camden.
- Government: Work with alternative models of grocery stores to locate in Camden City at prime or transit-accessible spots, such as near the universities or at the redesigned Rand Transportation Center.
- Community Organizations: Create a community gardeners' cooperative to distribute surplus food and sell food at rotating farmers' markets.
- Economic Development Organizations: Expand the Heart Bucks Program for healthy purchases at Camden's corner stores.
Implementing the recommendations included in Cultivating Camden will take the dedicated efforts of many actors working in Camden City. Many of these efforts are already underway thanks to the work of a number of outstanding individuals, organizations, businesses, and institutions; however there is much more work to do.
To help facilitate the implementation of these recommendations, we encourage anyone working to support Camden's food system to explore this funding opportunity: The Camden Food Innovation Grant Fund [0.4 MB pdf]. The Camden Food Innovation Grant Fund is a pooled fund that aims to seed innovative projects that create economic opportunity and foster healthy eating habits in Camden.
Additionally, DVRPC will host a series of technical assistance workshops for Camden stakeholders throughout 2016 to help build local organizations' capacity to implement many of the recommendations put forth in Cultivating Camden. We'd love to see you there, so please stay tuned for more information.