Across New York City and the nation, low-income and working families with young children endeavor to raise strong, healthy children; maintain their family's health; find and keep decent jobs and affordable housing; create safe communities; and claim a voice in shaping their neighborhoods. At the same time, within these communities, resilient families and children, skilled and experienced leaders, and many established civic organizations with a history of organizing to improve their neighborhoods have shown the power of local action to promote health, equity and community development.
In this policy brief, we describe one effort to mobilize community assets to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to supporting well-being, prosperity, increased community power and pathways out of poverty. For the past five years, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration) has used its farm to early care program as one foundation for an integrated approach to community development. In telling that story, this policy brief seeks to inform efforts to develop the next stage of farm to early care in Brooklyn, inspire others to adapt this approach to their own communities and cities, and share the lessons Restoration has learned from this work. These experiences can also inform initiatives to use improvements in institutional food programs as a starting point for transforming other systems such as senior centers, afterschool programs, and health care centers.