Every day more than 100,000 individuals living in Greater Hartford go to bed hungry; 40,000 of these are children under the age of 18. In a state listed as one of the wealthiest in our country, this number is shocking. In 2013, former President Barack Obama designated the North End of Hartford Connecticut as a “Promise Zone,” a term specified for high poverty communities chosen for preferential funding consideration to “create jobs, increase economic activity, improve educational opportunities, reduce violent crime and improve health outcomes.”
At Chrysalis Center, we address these critical needs in the community through three programs, as well as through raised beds and gardens at many of our housing sites:
Freshplace is an innovative client-choice/fresh food/case management food pantry located on our main campus in Hartford. Freshplace at Chrysalis Center serves 100 families, including more than 300 individuals, living in the poorest neighborhoods in the North End of Hartford. Freshplace’s mission is to build long-term food security and self-sufficiency by providing individuals with access to fresh and nutritional foods and case management services to address both the immediate need of hunger and the root causes of food insecurity – poverty. After reaching their individualized goals, Freshplace members have a better chance of eliminating hunger in their household and increasing their family’s economic self-sufficiency.
Hydroponics is a form of gardening that does not use soil, but instead grows plants in a solution of water and nutrients. Literally meaning, “working water”, the Urban Roots Hydroponics Grow Center at Chrysalis Center produces numerous varieties of lettuce, basil and microgreens which are used daily in the organization’s La Cocina Culinary Arts Program and distributed to the community through Freshplace and the Homestead Farmer’s Market. Harvested in a controlled environment, lettuce and other vegetables grown in Urban Roots are available year-round, and are toxin and pesticide- free, thus improving the community’s health and providing fresh and nutritious vegetables to individuals and families living in Hartford’s food desert.
An open-air, Connecticut-grown farmers’ market open to the public from June through October, Chrysalis Center’s Homestead Farmer’s Market is located on our main campus in Hartford. It offers vegetables and fruits culturally relevant to the community, featuring Urban Roots vegetables, as well as produce from local community farmers. La Cocina baked goods are often available, as well.