Thundermist Health Center of Rhode Island challenged Karen Karp & Partners (KK&P) to develop a comprehensive strategy to transform Woonsocket’s food system. Thundermist is a progressive, federally qualified health center, with many partners in the Woonsocket community. KK&Ps project would be intended to complement the state Department of Health’s “health equity” mission: to implement place-based strategies that would eliminate health disparities in support of healthier communities.
After a first phase that involved extensive needs assessment, onsite interviews with health system players and low income residents, KK&P moved into developing a food access plan for the Woonsocket area.
This evolved into a three year plan for improving food access in Woonsocket with strategies focused on the geography, integration and promotion of existing food related assets and services, and creating a community food headquarters in Woonsocket.
Specifically, it was suggested that Thundermist partner with the Mayor’s office to bring a grocery store to the downtown area. Additionally, an integration of health care and food access services was suggested, which would extend the reach of produce purchasing incentive programs already in place at farmers’ markets to grocery stores and other establishments.
By increasing general food access, and making fresh produce more affordable and available, the entire area has greater potential to make strides towards becoming a healthier community.