Nuestra Comida

“By engaging entire families, developing youth, forming effective partnerships, and implementing an equitable, culturally-based school and community food system, Nuestra Comida builds healthy, respectful and sustainable communities.”

– Nuestra Comida Theory of Change

W.K. Kellogg Foundation logo

Funding support for the Nuestra Comida  initiative is generously provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Project Outcomes

The two years of the project have culminated in dozens of tangible outcomes that pave the way for continued work to improve our local, regional and national food system.


Increase Family Engagement in Community Food

  • Free community nutrition and cooking classes
  • Regular school cooking demonstrations at family nights
  • Creation of a community leadership training program
  • Monthly community taco nights
  • Mapping of all city food resources
  • Hired community member organizer
  • Sold $58,000 of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Holyoke in the summer of 2016 through the Springfield Mobile Market

Increase Cultural Crop Production

  • Launched Nuestras Raíces Mobile Market
  • Launched Nuestras Raíces community-supported agriculture (CSA) farmshare program
  • Launched two-year 100 Finqueros farmer training program
  • Expanded ají dulce seed stock in collaboration with UMass
  • Completed research and planning for wash station installation at La Finca

Develop Youth Leadership

  • Foodcorps hired a Holyoke resident to work with youth
  • 100 students at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School enrolled in Nuestra Comida courses (Gardening & Food Justice, Food Empowerment through Cooking)
  • Youth designed and delivered service projects to grow vegetable plant starts for the Holyoke community, including cultural crops
  • Youth were trained in advocacy and presentation skills, then presented on food systems change work at regional conferences
  • Holyoke and Springfield youth joined together to lead school food photo-voice project with UMass

Improve School Food

  • Youth leaders conducted a school lunch needs assessment with 300 students at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School
  • Nuestra Comida launched educational programming with 5 city schools, offering gardening, nutrition and food justice curriculum to city students.
  • Nuestra Comida and Springfield Food Policy Council built a partnership to improve school food in both cities
  • New collaborations emerged between educators, nonprofits, healthcare agencies, and other stakeholders in Holyoke and Springfield to work towards school food improvement.

“To me I think the biggest injustices in the food system are that people may know what they need to eat to stay healthy and everything, but it’s not always available to them. Due to location if you’re in a poorer community, then there’s not going to be the best of foods available [...] A lot of people are surviving off ramen noodles, Mcdonald's... and some people are surviving off of nothing because there’s no money and it’s just not available to them, or they don’t have the education to make the stuff from scratch [...] If you have the knowledge and everything, you’ll just be able to cook from your knowledge”

– Nuestra Comida Youth Leader

Project Partners

Nuestra Comida is a collaborative partnership between Nuestras Raíces, Holyoke Community College, Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School,  UMass Stockbridge School of Agriculture, FoodCorps, and Partnership in Practice. The project direction and action plans emerged from input received in community listening sessions, with technical assistance and evaluation provided by Partnership in Practice and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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