Friday, December 12, 2008

Stakeholders: Groups 17-21

This week, the stakeholders groups finally began interviews after waiting on feedback and specific instructions for which individuals to speak to and what questions all groups should ask. As winter break quickly approached, many groups decided to forego in-person interviews, conducting them over the phone. Some group members, though, did meet with their interviewees at their offices or work sites.

Elizabeth Borges conducted an interview with Mary Gay of the Trenton Rescue Mission after being referred to her by Jeff Zeiger from the Trenton Chamber of Commerce. They spoke at length about how food availability affects the Rescue Mission, and how the absence of well-stocked grocery stores in the central Trenton area presents a significant problem for the population of the city. Mary also recommended that Elizabeth speak with Phyllis Stoolmacher at Mercer Street Friends to gain a more direct understanding of how food availability affects the urban poor, so Elizabeth will likely conduct a third interview next week.

Devon Damiano met with Elyse Pivnick at Isles at the organization’s Trenton offices, located right in the middle of Trenton and surrounded by several community gardens that Isles supports. Elyse and Devon spoke about how Isles works with the community to encourage healthy eating and to make healthy food available to the local population. One of the biggest problems affecting health in the city, Elyse told Devon, is that the economic situation in Trenton leaves commercial grocers unwilling to enter the market, both because of the actual poverty in the city and because of stereotypes about the community. After the interview, Elyse pointed Devon to the gardens in the surrounding area, and she went to see them for herself. Isles helps start these gardens by providing basic supplies like seeds and fencing, but neighborhoods are expected to tend to the gardens on themselves, taking ownership of their new food source while reaping the benefits of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Elyse speaks to Devon in Isles' office
on Wood Street, in dow
ntown Trenton.

Devon checks out Isles' children's garden
on nearby Academy Street.