Nutrition Access Center

Organization Name: Grand Street Guild

Project Title: Nutrition Access Center

Project Location: Lower East Side

Project Description:
The Nutrition Access Center (N.A.C.) is a multi-disciplinary response to the needs of the community, combining sustainability, food access, improved nutrition outcomes, case management, and a robust community organizing effort. In the wake of Covid-19, food insecurity worsened the systemic inequalities struggling families face. Our challenge was to provide immediate help, while also helping residents build a path toward self-sufficiency. A key lesson from the pandemic is that food access and health are closely intertwined – food is a social determinant of health. As the city wound down it’s pandemic food programs, many of the families at Grand Street Guild were still in crisis. Located behind on site, the N.A.C. provides all residents with locally grown seasonal produce with high nutritional value. The increase in access to healthy food lowers the risk of residents developing chronic health conditions, and reduces economic stress. As the program develops further, it will incorporate nutrition education classes to optimize the use of the distributed produce. Our community organizer keeps in contact with resident volunteers and community leaders to ensure that the N.A.C. has culturally appropriate food

Community Impact:
Since its opening, the Nutrition Access Center’s food program has improved healthy food access to some of Grand Street Guild’s most vulnerable residents. It has served over 700 unique individuals, the vast majority of which are in the bottom income quintile, and distributed over 70,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy, and lean protein. In addition to the direct intervention of providing healthy food, the Nutrition Access Center encourages residents to volunteer throughout the distribution process to provide a sense of purpose in being able to help their neighbors. Older adults deepen their connections to fast-changing Lower East Side community, younger adults have a chance to learn about the operational side of a service program, and the food distribution process provides a forum for multi-generational socialization.

Organization Description:
Grand Street Guild is a non-profit organization with an all-volunteer board of Directors dedicated to providing and managing quality 100% affordable housing for low-income families in the Lower East Side. We believe that quality affordable housing is a platform for residents to build a better life. Grand Street Guild’s in house Community & Social Services program sits at the intersection between community stakeholder engagement, providing social services, education, and research. We strive to balance competing needs with evidence based interventions.

Team Members:

Samuel Ortiz - Director
Jeffrey Chen - Program Manager
Andrea Molina - Program Coordinator
Carmen Mezarina - Social Worker

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