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. Poverty is one of the leading reasons why families have food insecurity. Thirty-four percent of Hartford residents live at or below the poverty threshold, more than triple the statewide average. In North Hartford, this number increases to 50%, where families live in areas known as a food deserts, with limited access to affordable and nutrious foods. Larger grocery stores are a bus trip outside the neighborhood and finding wholesome and healthy food is not only difficult, but near impossible.
Our Community Connections programs address these critical needs in the community through innovative and hands-on approaches:
Freshplace is an innovative client-choice/fresh food/case management food pantry located on our main campus in Hartford. Freshplace at Chrysalis Center which serves up to 100 families (approximately 300 individuals in total), 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.
Chrysalis Center’s on-site raised garden beds, known as “Railway Gardens”, provide fresh produce for our clients seasonally. Comprised of 15 raised beds located adjacent to the upper parking lot of 255 Homestead Ave, the beautiful gardens are maintained by volunteers and clients. Tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, yellow squash, zucchini, peppers, kale, collard greens, Swiss chard are some of the produce harvested each fall, including a variety of herbs. The gardens prvvide an adddional souce of healthy foods for our clients, while engaging many community volunteers in our mission.
As part of Chrysalis Center’s ongoing commitment to creating innovative approaches to helping people overcome hunger and poverty, the social services agency becomes the first organization in the State and one of the few in New England to build a sustainable and edible food forest. Through careful planning and land management, this two-acre forest is located in the South End of Hartford and includes fruit and nut trees, shrubs, herbs, vines and perennial vegetables. The forest is maintined by residents of our Cosgrove Commons supportive housing site and volunteers and provides delicious and healthy food choices for our clients.