Nurturing Her Community through Access to Nutritious Food - Capital Area Food Bank
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Nurturing Her Community through Access to Nutritious Food

By Mark Thomas April 1, 2016

Cora Clark, a Resident Services Manager with Community Preservation and Development Corporation, has a very distinct childhood memory about nutritious food: there wasn’t any.
“We did not have access to healthy food in the beginning,” she recalls.
Today, at the Arbor View Apartments in southeast DC, Ms. Clark is on a quiet mission to bring nutritious food to her neighbors who are struggling with hunger, and to boost her community’s health in the process. She sees particular importance for getting children access to the kinds of food that she herself did not have early in life. “If we can teach someone how to eat healthy when they’re young,” she shared, “that is important.”
Along with other residents, Ms. Clark runs a food pantry at Arbor View – a food oasis within a Ward 8 food desert. The apartments are a mile away from the closest grocery store: not far for someone who has a car, but a long way for the many area residents who don’t. It is also in a neighborhood where many people live on limited incomes.
The markets are, by her description, a “whole community effort.” Twice a month, Cora and resident volunteers set up farmer’s market-style food distributions, featuring fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other foods like beans, peanut butter, and whole grain pasta. Often, a cooking demonstration is set up by a volunteer chef or resident to show how to prepare the foods available.
A sign up table is also operated by community volunteers on distribution days to help people learn about other opportunities for wellness, including the CAFB’s Brown Bag and Grocery Plus programs, which provide seniors with bags of nutritious food once a month. To prevent food waste, Ms. Cora created a “share table”, where people can leave any food they won’t use for others to take.
The pantry has come a long way from its humble beginnings. Ms. Clark remembers that when she first visited the Capital Area Food Bank in 2004, “the pantry used to be in one of our supply closets.” But when Arbor View went under renovation, she successfully advocated for dedicated space in the new community center. Since then, she’s built a culture of wellness that has inspired other CAFB food assistance partners to become hubs of nutritious food and resources in their own neighborhoods.
Ms. Clark’s views on hunger are simple: “Nobody should have to suffer because of food,” she says. Thanks to her work, and the hard work of volunteers, hundreds of people in the community won’t have to.
The story continues, learn about how Cora Clark helped empower a CPDC resident from another community to join the fight against hunger in partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank – Cross City Collaboration to End Hunger!