Community Food Planning in Action: Lessons from Dudley Real Food Hub

Between July 2014 and March 2015, the Dudley Real Food Hub (DRFH) conducted a food planning process with residents and community stakeholders.  A collaborative in the Dudley Neighborhood, DHRF is anchored by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI), in partnership with the Food Project (TFP) and Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE). The Dudley Real Food Hub “envisions a local resident-led food system that provides access to nutritious, affordable healthy food to all our neighbors, brings economic opportunities to residents, and protects the environment.”

After a participatory process, DHRF finalized a plan that includes the following priority strategies:

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Tufts UEP has been closely involved in the evolution of DHRF’s process since 2013, when a student field project team developed “Cultivate your Food Economy,” tools, data and curriculum for engagement in neighborhood food economies. In the summer of 2013 students supported a garden survey with youth action researchers in the Dudley neighborhood. And in 2014 a student team conducted case studies of community food planning across the country and developed a planning process proposal for DHRF.

In the spring of 2015, a UEP Field project team (including Matt Hinds, Danielle Ngo, Jonathan Diaz, Meghan Higgins, and Barbara Shepard-Kim) conducted a case study of DHRF’s planning process. The leadership of DHRF believed that a documentation of their experience could be useful for communities across the country–particularly urban communities of color—that want to embark on community food planning.

The 2015 team used the following research questions in its case study of DHRF:

  • How has the planning process developed overtime?
  • How have the goals of DRFH changed overtime?
  • What has the community engagement process looked like?
  • What resources have been utilized to advance the process?
  • How has this process advanced social justice?

DHRF is unique as a food planning process anchored by community organizations with long histories of engagement and organizing in the neighborhood.

As the field project team put it, the planning was characterized by:

1) the utilization of existing community networks, as well as the DRFH collaboration itself,

2) the contribution of additional organizational capital and capacity and

3) the mutual gains that the DRFH received as a result of the alignment of the community food planning process with the missions and programmatic goals of each partner organization.

The team developed this helpful schematic to describe the resident-led process:

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The full report can be accessed here.

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