In the Fall of 2010 I began serving as primary co-investigator on a community food assessment (CFA) in the city of Poughkeepsie, New York.  A remarkable coalition of local groups came together under the title Poughkeepsie Plenty, including the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Dutchess Outreach, the Dutchess County Dept. of Health, and Cornell Cooperative Extension Dutchess County.  Under the direction of Susan Grove, then director of the Poughkeepsie Farm Project, Poughkeepsie Plenty secured a U.S. Department of Agriculture “Hunger Free Communities” grant and set out to work.

My job was to design the CFA’s empirical studies and send Vassar College students plus other community volunteers out to gather data: a city-wide household survey, focus-group interviews, fieldwork in city stores, etc.  Our findings were sobering — among other things, about 1 in 4 city households were food insecure by USDA standards — and released in a 100-page final report, released in January 2013 to the Poughkeepsie Plenty team and the public at large.

Today I’m excited to announce two new documents intended to disseminate the CFA’s finds and spark action in Poughkeepsie, the Hudson Valley and beyond.

The first is a new discussion brief published by the Center for Research, Regional Education (CRREO) and Outreach at SUNY-New Paltz.  Co-written writh Susan Grove and CRREO researchers KT Tobin and Joshua Simons, this 20-page report presents the CFA findings in bold relief, with some especially engaging maps and charts.  It joins other CRREO discussion briefs in signalling to regional and state policy makers the broad problems of food insecurity throughout the Hudson Valley.  You can download the discussion brief here.


The second is the Poughkeepsie Plenty “Food Equality Newspaper,” a 6-page brochure that shares the CFA findings and community responses in jargon-free language and intuitive graphics.  Artists Lize Mogel (of the Center for Urban Pedagogy) and Matthew Slaats (currently at the Bridge Progressive Arts Institute in Charlottesville, VA) were guiding forces in this designing this remarkable work of public education.  You can download the Food Equality Newspaper here.

Food Equality in Our City

My work with Poughkeepsie Plenty has since winded down, although I continue to analyze the household survey data with KT Tobin and Eve Waltermaurer of SUNY-New Paltz.  We’ll be presenting papers based on multivariate regression analyses of the survey data this summer at the ASFS/AFHVS conference in Vermont and the American Sociological Association meetings in San Francisco.

Finally, please note that Poughkeepsie Plenty is still active!  Under Susan Grove’s leadership, the CFA has evolved into a CFC: a community food coalition mobilizing grassroots action on the food system via regular public meetings and working group efforts.  For more information on Poughkeepsie Plenty, please visit their website.