Creating a Truly Food Secure Nantucket

NRP News • November 16, 2023

On Monday, November 13th, 28 individuals representing 20 island organizations gathered at the Dreamland’s Harborview Room to discuss how they can work together to tackle the issue of food insecurity on Nantucket. Facilitated by the Nantucket Resource Partnership (NRP), the meeting convened existing food security and nutrition program providers, including:

  • Nantucket Food Fuel and Rental Assistance (The Food Pantry and Fresh Connect)
  • Nourishing Nantucket (weekly fresh produce boxes)
  • Health Imperatives/Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • St. Paul’s Suppers (weekly hot meals)
  • The Warming Place (guest meals)
  • The Nantucket Public Schools (school lunch)
  • Nantucket Boys & Girls Club (after school snacks)
  • Sustainable Nantucket (supplying local produce the school lunch program & grow boxes)
  • Our House, Nantucket (after school family-style dinners)

The meeting’s purpose was to update the group on NRP’s ongoing initiatives aimed at establishing common goals, shared evaluation models, and connected systems. These efforts are intended to bring about transformative change, building on the dialogue initiated in the very same room two years earlier on November 17th, 2021.

Participants in the event described a “food secure Nantucket” as a place where:

  • “No one goes hungry, and everyone is aware of the resources that are available to them.”
  • “We all have the food we need to be healthy and to thrive.”
  • “Access to quality, nutritious food is understood as a human right.”

Participants suggested that in order to succeed in this effort we need to:

  • “Better understand the problem and identify opportunities to overcome obstacles.”
  • “Work in concert and symbiotically to fund and streamline impactful programs.”
  • “Work together with farmers, non-profits, the Town and the businesses to build a sustainable food system.”
  • “Ascertain what the need really is and how it can be satisfied.”

NRP is a 501(c)3 non-profit that was established to develop effective, holistic, and enduring solutions to solve the issues that challenge our community most. NRP’s unique role includes conducting research, fostering collaboration, and implementing innovative technologies. NRP has identified food insecurity as its number one priority.

NRP created and manages an online referral tool – Food First – which connects food insecure individuals to existing programs. Nantucket’s human service providers are actively using Food First and more that 600 referrals have been made since inception in March 2022.

In July 2023, NRP was awarded a $250,000 Food Security Infrastructure Grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. With this funding, NRP will work with Process First to analyze Nantucket’s food system, including the food security needs of the community. This work will quantify the capacity of existing infrastructure & programs, analyze the gaps in the system and begin to develop a roadmap that will guide decision makers on the most critical and effective means to fill those gaps.

The action items agreed upon by the participants include a commitment to quarterly Food Sector meetings and the establishment of two work groups that will:

1) Create a common understanding of enrollment, qualification, and wait-list criteria that will allow NRP to further develop Food First to support program enrollment, waitlist management and self-referral.

2) Coordinate efforts to raise awareness of food insecurity, propose solutions and support fundraising for financial sustainability of the entire food security system.