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Building a Culture of Health, Wellness & Accountability in Affordable Housing

Learn how the work, commitment and forward thinking of one resident services manager is empowering residents in CPDC’s Southeast D.C. Arbor View community to change their minds, circumstances and lifestyles.

A 5-Part Blog Series

The network of health and wellness services Cora Clark has put into place at Arbor View—and that residents today embrace, manage and lead—is vast.

Ward 8 Food Pantry
In October 2014, residents established a food pantry open to all Arbor View residents and residents of Ward 8. In less than on year, nearly 150 people have enrolled and the bustling pantry, open daily, is 100% resident-run and managed. To support the growing on site food service, CPDC recently expanded and renovated the Arbor View community center to accommodate the range of resident programs and growing food pantry.

Arbor View Greening Day | CPDC | May 16, 2015Community Gardens
Also in 2014, residents cultivated a community garden on the property with no prior education or assistance. In their first year, residents successfully grew cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. This year, with assistance from Capital Area Food Bank, the garden will greatly expand to include cherry and steak tomatoes, herbs, peppers, squash, radishes, cucumbers, beets, carrots, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, bean sprouts, potatoes, cantaloupes and squash. Environmental non-profit Casey Trees has also planted fruit trees on the property including sweet cherry trees, Asian pear trees and apple trees.

Technical Assistance Gardening Grant
Capital Area Food Bank, a top provider for the Arbor View food pantry, has provided residents assistance building raised garden beds, gardening tools and will offer ongoing education through a Technical Assistance Gardening Grant Cora secured.

Produce Plus Program
Now in its second year at Arbor View, the summer DC Department of Health Produce Plus Program provides food vouchers to individuals and families receiving federal assistance to access fresh, locally grown fruit and vegetables from any local farmer’s Pantry3market. Cora has $1,000 in vouchers each week available to her residents and any qualifying Ward 8 resident. Last year the program was immensely successful, reaching 95% of the Arbor View community

Grocery Plus Program
For adults 60 and older, Cora also oversees Grocery Plus, a USDA program administered through Capital Area Food Bank that delivers milk, egg, cheese and meat monthly to participants. Grocery Plus encourages seniors to remain active by providing a variety of nutritious foods needed for a healthy diet.

“With the support in place at Arbor View, our residents are consistently guaranteed three sources of food—the most important and available being the onsite food pantry,” Cora noted. “You pay your rent. We’ll make sure you’re fed.”

CAFB Empowerment Grant
In 2014, Capital Area Food Bank provided a grant of $3,000 to support an Arbor View health-themed summer camp for children. The 2015 summer camp will continue with a safety and health theme.

CPDC summer camp in SE Washington DC - 0013In addition to the numerous food-based initiatives, Arbor View residents also have access to weekly fitness activities including Zumba, line dancing and a walking group going two years strong.

“There is a real sense of community here. Residents check on me…and each other. And I want them to be here and know that I’m here for them,” Cora said. “The most important thing to me is that residents of this community be able to take care of themselves, speak up for themselves and sustain the programs in place. They’ve got to keep it going. Encourage and teach each other. Take ownership. It’s not mine–it’s theirs. If I’ve done nothing but inspire them to be advocates for themselves, I’ve succeeded.”

To read Part 4, click here.

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