Elicker Cooks Up Food Stamp Idea

Mayoral hopeful Justin Elicker dropped by the Broadway soup kitchen to discover that the line is nearly twice as long at the end of the month as at the beginning. That gave him an idea.

The city can’t control how much people get in food stamps each month. But, suggested Elicker (pictured above), the city can help people plan their food-stamp spending to make it to the end of the month without needing a soup-kitchen meal.

Elicker, an East Rock alderman and one of six Democratic mayoral candidates seeking to succeed retiring incumbent John DeStefano, was mulling over that idea Tuesday as he left the New Haven Community Soup Kitchen after helping serve 305 hot lunches.

Elicker stopped by at the invitation of soup kitchen coordinator David O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan has invited all six of the mayoral candidates to visit; Elicker is the first to take him up on the offer.

“They may not hear these people,” O’Sullivan said, referring to the soup kitchen’s clients. He said he wants the candidates to see what happens at the kitchen and talk to the people there.

Elicker arrived wearing jeans and a faded baseball cap and donned an oversized red apron. Before the blessing of the meal, Elicker took an opportunity to speak to the first batch of people lined up for chili, rice, vegetables, salad, and dessert. He told them he prides himself on being responsive to people, and announced his cell phone number.

He took a place at the end of buffet line, where he handed out napkins and plastic cutlery, along with packets of sugar and Sweet & Low. He traded jokes with people and talked with other volunteers, from whom he learned that the line was much longer than usual because it’s the end of the month.

The soup kitchen serves about 175 daily lunches at the beginning of the month, staff said. The number shoots way up at the end of each month, as people’s food stamps run out and they’re forced to turn to the soup kitchen. On Monday 389 people came for lunch.

After the Tuesday lunch rush died down, Elicker sat with a man named Walter, who told him that his food stamps aren’t enough to feed him for a whole month. Elicker asked Walter if he can plan out to make them last. Walter said it’s tough because the refrigerator in his Section 8-subsidized apartment is so small. He said buying fresh vegetables is a challenge because they don’t keep well.

Even the best planning won’t make it easy to live on food stamps, Elicker later acknowledged. He spoke about Food Stamped, a documentary film he recently saw. The film follows two people trying to eat a healthful, well-balanced diet for a month on food stamps. They ended the month famished, despite their best attempts. (Click here and here to read about U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy’s own experience on the food-stamp diet.)

The city can’t change the amount that people receive in food stamps, the federal program now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The average daily food-stamp budget is $4.80. In Connecticut, the maximum benefit for an eligible family of four is $668 per month.

Nevertheless, “the city could help people plan more,” help them “strategize” to eat better the whole month long, Elicker said.

He suggested that help could take the form of classes and education through the Housing Authority of New Haven, which administers federal Section 8 vouchers to tenants in town. Organizations like CARE, City Seed, the New Haven Land Trust, and the school board could be enlisted in the effort as well, he said.

Ultimately, soup kitchens and food stamps won’t get to the underlying causes of poverty, which can be addressed with economic development and new jobs, Elicker said. He said the city’s Prison Reentry Initiative will be key, since many of the soup kitchen diners he spoke with told him that criminal records are keeping them from employment.

Elicker talked about extending his “no wrong door” philosophy to social services, so that someone can walk into City Hall, the housing authority, soup kitchens, or farmers markets and get information about signing up for SNAP. He said the city needs also to do more to “close the gaps” when emergency food is less available, like on weekends.

After lunch O’Sullivan (at left in photo) and Elicker sat down and talked more about coordinating food services for the hungry and homeless. O’Sullivan said city soup kitchens get together quarterly as part of the Greater New Haven Emergency Food Council. He said he hasn’t been too involved with the New Haven Food Policy Council, which works on similar issues. O’Sullivan said his impression is that the Food Policy Council has been more geared toward “white, middle-class people” concerned with farmers markets.

O’Sullivan suggested the city could look to a program like DC Central Kitchen, which is just what it sounds like: a central kitchen that recycles food donations and sends meals out to social services agencies throughout the city. It’s also a job-training program.

“We may want to look at that long term,” O’Sullivan said. “The health department would love it,” having only one kitchen to inspect. And it might lead to more churches handing out food, since they wouldn’t need a kitchen of their own to do so, O’Sullivan said.

Elicker called the concept “interesting and worth exploring.”


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posted by: TheMadcap on June 25, 2013  4:17pm

“In Connecticut, the maximum benefit for an eligible family of four is $668 per month.”

This is correct, but, it makes it seem more luxurious than it really is. To get the maximum benefit, you have to be basically completely destitute with absolutely no income.

posted by: Curious on June 25, 2013  4:34pm

I think the question then becomes, will people want this kind of help?  A lot of people don;t like being told how to spend their money…even when it’s not “their money”.

A pilot of this would be very interesting, though.  Get one or two families to try this out and show how it works.  That would be more persuasive than just the policy itself, I bet.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 25, 2013  6:45pm

To effectively address this ‘issue’, it would make the most sense for the State to disperse its food stamp money bi-weekly.

Now let’s here some real platform stuff, Justin.
I know you have more up your sleeve…..

posted by: StrongOne on June 25, 2013  7:06pm

“In Connecticut, the maximum benefit for an eligible family of four is $668 per month.”

Maybe for some families this is true, but if you have any type of income the amount of benefit decreases. So as TheMadCap stated you need to have NO INCOME to qualify for that much. And to what Curios stated, you may be right no one likes to be told how/what to be told but maybe it should be a requirement or mandated program in order to continue to receive benefits. There is nothing wrong with learning new techniques. I’ve learned to budget myself very well, I am a single parent of four ages 20,18,16,14.. I receive SNAP Benefits and I dislike how the system works, how they prefer to help young people who rather not do nothing and waste time than those who are in college and work part time. In my situation, my child goes to college and works and live at home but the system counts her income in my household due to her being an adult, so now that my other child is 18 and if that child gets work they will count that income too, so we at the time are only receiving $160.00 monthly of SNAP Benefits for household of four due to our income. So we learned to cut coupons on Sunday papers, bargain shop and buy only what is necessary. I have gone to food banks, but have you seen what they give some people, not to sound ungrateful but it is not healthy if it is outdated or moldy. I see many people take advantage of the system and I wish they would do something to fix that, it is upsetting when you see others who do need the help and you struggle while others just take keep taking advantage. I see many young people not working nor going to school and they system keeps providing for them, maybe SNAP increase may help for some who need it but before that the system needs a lot of change starting with the workers the system has working for them.

posted by: Wooster Squared on June 25, 2013  7:57pm

Elicker Is out there talking to voters from all backgrounds, and coming up with ideas to help us fix problems large and small. Meanwhile, the other candidates are trying to rack up endorsements from the politically well-connected and trading favors.

This city needs a mayor who’s always on and who can bring a new and innovative approach to government.  What we don’t need,
is more of the same old patronage system.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on June 25, 2013  8:41pm

Now this is our (Cedar Hill’s)Justin! I wish more people can see what we have seen over all these years. He is about finding ways to make life better in a creative way. I can honestly not see any of the candidates being able to make the city a better place and life for everyone. Really think about it…Harp has been our Senator for how long??? Has she ever (besides at election time) stepped out of her office and said STOP and fought for it. Here is a women that could of used the press over all these year to make the mayor and the PD do something about the crime in the bad areas of New Haven…yet you only heard from her if there was a murder and press or an election. I have never seen any hands on work by any of the candidates…all but justin who does it not because of any other reason but because it is THE RIGHT THING TO DO! He is not afraid to think out of the box, he is a Cory Booker type. And that is why we love him in Cedar Hill! Will something like this work I don’t know but what I do know is something needs to be done…and we need an out of the box thinker like elicker to change the direction we are heading in. But you can support a candidate that has been part of the problem (remember silence and not speaking up make you just as quility as the people doing it) or you can have a mayor that has fresh and new ideas and is willing to actually listen to the people not just pretend to, to get elected! GO JUSTIN!

posted by: HewNaven on June 25, 2013  9:24pm

For a look at HOW to stretch food assistance, (and how to shape-up vacant lots) see what NEW HAVEN FARMS is doing:


posted by: DownTownNewHaven on June 25, 2013  10:08pm

City Seed actually has a program in place right now that doubles up to $10 snap dollars every day of the week. It’s nice that Justin can name a few organizations and ask them to find solutions, it would be a lot nicer if he was actually engaged with these groups so that he could help promote the solutions they have already been working on.

posted by: Bill Saunders on June 26, 2013  1:19am

Wooster Squared,

You hinted at the important point. 

From everything I have seen with Mr. Elicker, he has an even, open demeanor, he is a consistent listener , he sincere in his positing of solutions, and he is open to public input.

Those are the kinds of qualities I am looking for in the Chief Executive of our City.

posted by: robn on June 26, 2013  7:31am

I like this idea of “no closed doors”. Every city employee should have enough of a working knowledge of departments to at least direct you to where you need to go.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on June 26, 2013  7:58am

@ Wooster Squared, HewNaven andDownTownNewHaven on

Please, please STOP with the charity and promoting Justin’s big hart. WE DO NOT want few organizations giving charities.

New Haven doesn’t need services/charities, We need job creations and actually we need some of those charities mentalities to go out of New Haven and leave the room (and money) for workshops to prepare people to find job or open small business. when you are talking about ‘The old system” this is it.

What about changing the mentality to “New Haven Works”.

Very, Very few programs like the Broadway soup kitchen should be receiving a meaningful support and being use for emergency needs and not as a solution. that’s means for homeless people and somebody passing a hard time like loosing their jobs.

posted by: LadyERT on June 26, 2013  8:24am

I must say, I agree with Strongone. I, too am a single mother. I support and complete household plus a vehicle(which is like having another child here). It seems that every day household bills get higher while wages remain the same. I clip coupons and only shop sale items and it is still a big struggle trying to keep decent food in the home. Yet, I work for a supportive housing agency where single people that receive SSI of $710 per month but only pay $78 a month rent getting $200 a month in snap benefits. Am I the only one who sees something wrong with these numbers?

posted by: Wooster Squared on June 26, 2013  9:26am

@Claudia Herrera,

When do the Harp-Fernandez campaign appoint you to speak on behalf of all New Haveners? At any rate, congrats on the new role.

When you say “WE DO NOT want…”, who’s this we? Even as someone who doesn’t use these services, I’m proud to live in a City take works to help people when they fall down.

More importantly, what Justin understands is that services and job creation are connected. You call for job creation, but you don’t seem to understand that folks in New need to be in a position to be able to take advantage of job opportunities. This means providing services to get people back on their feet and trained for the jobs that are out there. Otherwise, any jobs created will go to suburban resident.

You can’t effectively search for or apply for jobs if you’re hungry or don’t have access to the transportation you need.

Justin is a deep thinker who can quickly assess all aspects of a problem and make sure all the different moving parts are in the right place to make things happen. This is the “new” approach I’m talking about. Instead jamming through top-down solutions, Justin listens to everyone, understands the problem from all angles, and works with residents to develop and implement solutions.

posted by: streever on June 26, 2013  9:38am

@Claudia Herrera
Politicians don’t create jobs. Can you show me a single example—even one—of a sitting politician creating meaningful long-term jobs from the ether?

No, because they can’t.

Politicians can MOVE jobs, and sometimes, as a result of that move, the company can hire more employees and grow, but that has nothing to do with the politician. If a certain area is better for a company, they will go there.

Politicians don’t create jobs. Businesses do. There is no politician who will “Create jobs”.

The entire argument is an invented fallacy, created by the Tea Party, and I really wish Democrats would STOP USING TEA PARTY RHETORIC!

Please people! We’re democrats for crying out loud. Tea party marketing slogans need to go the way of the dinosaur.

posted by: Atwater on June 26, 2013  11:13am

The idea of a politician creating jobs is a lot older than the tea party. It has probably been a used slogan since the Great Depression. Anyway, it is the job of government to create an atmosphere that will promote the creation and growth of industry, commerce and trade.

From where I stand it seems that the Democrats, especially in New Haven, are more interested in increasing the welfare state. Their attitude is, keep the poor people dependant on us so that we can remain in power. However, Mr. Elicker seems to be bucking this trend with his statements about education and equitable economic development. I am all for helping those who are down and out, but I cannot condone the idea of supporting a permanent class of people who either cannot or will not find gainful employment. I tend to believe the former is truer than the latter and it is up to our elected officials to either help in the process of restoring true equity in our communities, or to get out of the way of those who want to effect real change. Democrats like poverty just as much, if not more, than their Republican colleagues. So, perhaps it is time to abandon the idea that one party is better than the other; they’re both horribly anti-democratic and corrupt.

posted by: parejkoj on June 26, 2013  11:41am

Streever: of course politicians can create jobs. Look at scientific research in the US, or transportation infrastructure, or energy generation. In the case of a demand slump like the current recession/depression, government policy can create plenty of jobs. Here’s a recent example:


At the local and regional level it may be a bit harder, but states and cities can certainly tune their education programs to match the kinds of jobs that are needed.

posted by: Razzie on June 26, 2013  12:23pm

Just for clarification, Toni Harp was on hand and visited the “Believe In Me” food bank in Dixwell-Newhallville last Thursday, serving nearly 75 - 100 residents. But still good to see Elicker trying to branch out from his East Rock neighborhood. But another note of caution, I hope Justin doesn’t think that one photo-op at a soup kitchen gives him instant empathy with the less fortunate. It takes much more than 1 afternoon.

posted by: Razzie on June 26, 2013  12:27pm

@ Streever
I don’t often disagree with your posts, however if you look at our recent experience with the federally inspired Economic Stimulus Program, you will find ample evidence that government is the engine that moves job growth forward, not big greedy businesses interested only in their bottom line.

posted by: Curious on June 26, 2013  12:35pm

Thanks Razzie!  Too bad there’s nothing to substantiate that.

I do appreciate your every attempt to try and cut down Justin, though.  It shows people are still afraid of him.

Speaking of just one afternoon, remember when Harp had the police drive her around New Haven in a cruiser so they could show her what the city is like outside her nice posh neighborhood?  That was a hoot!

posted by: cedarhillresident! on June 26, 2013  12:39pm

Razzie I get you love your candidate but you really do not know Justin to have made such a comment. I am in his ward??? I do not live in east rock I live in cedar hill…his ward also consists of fair haven and over in the middletown ave area…so you need to at the LEAST know your facts. Justin has been a hands on community leader and this was no photo op for him. He has worked with other groups like this. And ya know what if elected he is the ONLY candidate that will really address these and many other issues that effect communitys like mine…which is were Justin spends alot of his time!! Grrr :)

posted by: streever on June 26, 2013  1:22pm

I’m sorry if I was unclear in my point, but even more sorry to see a semantic pick-fest erupt. As one of you points out, it is nearly impossible to “create jobs” on a municipal level.

As it is, the term “create jobs” is so loaded with meaning—and so co-opted by the Tea Party—as to have literally no meaning whatsoever. It is used 3 different ways in these comments alone, and many of the ways it is being used are mutually exclusive.

It is an ideological buzz phrase.

Very generally speaking, government does not sell goods or services, therefore, they do not have a self-sustaining method of employment i.e. job creation.

Yes, indeed, they do transfer money—as in the stimulus—to create incentives in specified industries. How can government actually “create a job”, however?

The types of spending that government can engage in which will help us to create jobs involve things that neither Harp nor the Tea Party nor many sitting politicians are talking about.

Building infrastructure and other necessary upgrades is one of the only sustainable ways that the government can improve the job creation atmosphere, because it helps companies and individuals deliver the goods and services they sell.

A good example of this is solar power. Right now, renting tenants have little incentive to invest personally in solar: they can’t transfer the system easily when they move.

The Federal government could indeed invest in solar power and give the entire cost of installing solar systems to landlords on a per house basis.

This would cause the solar industry to boom around this.

Until I see a proposal from a politician to do something similar, or improve our shipping train system and de-privitize it, I remain opposed to the meaningless buzz phrase “create jobs”.

posted by: Curious on June 26, 2013  1:35pm

Cedarhillresident, it doesn’t help that NHI often refers to Justin as “East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker”.

This is Ward 10, people.


It’s the far-end of East Rock, plus more.  It’s not what I typically think of when I think of East Rock, which is the stretch of Orange that’s bustling with yuppies and people walking their dogs, and all the nice little shops on Orange.  That area is split between wards 9, 7, and 21.

The NHI does a good job of portraying Justin as “Rich, White, Yalie’s Alderman Justin Elicker”.

posted by: Atwater on June 26, 2013  2:05pm

@streever: the government does create jobs. The federal government employs millions of people. The TSA didn’t exist before the year 2011, but the government created the agency and the thousands of jobs needed to fill positions within it. The state government employs thousands. Federal Government contracts keep thousands more employed for companies such as Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, MacDonald Douglas, General Electric, Etc.
The government creates wealth, within and without our borders.
The issue with the Tea Party is they believed that government regulation hindered the growth of the private sector.
How would a municipal government create jobs? Well, the Democrats’ approach would be to increase the bureaucracy, spend millions more on schools, city agencies and social welfare programs.
The Republicans’ approach would be to lower property taxes and entice corporations to move to the city.
Neither of these options would be good for the people of New Haven. Well, I’m sure they would like lower property taxes, but they also wouldn’t want the unchecked expansion of Yale Corp. Oh wait, the Democrats have allowed this. So, it appears New Haven is doomed unless they begin to think outside of the very narrow confines of party politics.

posted by: parejkoj on June 26, 2013  2:17pm

Streever: Sorry, I just cringe everytime I hear someone say government or politicians can’t create jobs. It’s just not true, and the tea party rhetoric on this topic is all kinds of messed up. I think you and I are actually in agreement on this (as your energy policy suggestion implies), but the rhetoric does matter.

That said, here’s an idea for some local short-term job creation that would lead to long term job creation: take the money that’s been juggled around regarding the Mill River power plant site, and hire a bunch of workers to finally clean it up. Once environmental remediation is done, there’s a whole chunk of land there that could be used for all sorts of employment.

posted by: anonymous on June 26, 2013  2:48pm

Parej, I agree with you. Cleaning up urban brownfields like the Mill River site should be a statewide priority.

Unfortunately, Malloy and our other Statewide Democrats are targeting the money that should be used for this sort of critical economic development activity toward dubious plans to create more jobs in the suburbs, such as the Jackson Labs plan and Cigna “First Five” subsidies.  These jobs will be inaccessible to low-income residents and people who can not drive. 

Unlike other nearby States, our political leadership is clearly stuck in the 1980s (see http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/harp_nemerson/ for a prime example).  We need to vote these dinosaurs out of office, and replace them with progressive elected officials and planners who will bring some fresh thinking to Connecticut.

posted by: Tagan on June 26, 2013  3:37pm

Thank you for doing an article on the serious issue of hunger in New Haven. One correction, the New Haven Food Policy Council (NHFPC) is deeply involved with the issue of hunger in New Haven.  The Greater New Haven Emergency Food Council mentioned in the article has recently merged with the Food Assistance Working Group of the New Haven Food Policy Council.  This Working Group meets monthly (next meeting: Thursday, July 11th, 4:00am-5:30pm at United Way). This group is open to the public and includes representatives from many soup kitchens and hunger organizations. This Working Group is working on clear strategies on the local level to do SNAP enrollment, spread info about where soup kitchens are and better coordinate food assistance resources in New Haven (like updating the street sheet and creating one for each neighborhood). The group is also working on the federal level to fight for funding for SNAP (food stamps), and other food assistance programs that are in jeopardy of being cut in the Farm Bill. There will also be a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Food & Health on July 31st at 6pm - at Beullah Heights Church which also runs a feeding program. Hunger is one of many serious food issues that affect the people on New Haven, it is the explicit mission of the NH Food Policy Council to address these issues for all the people of New Haven which is what we do.

The NHFPC is made up of a racially and economically diverse group of people working on a wide range of important food issues in New Haven.
Check out the New Haven Food Policy Council’s webpage for more info:  http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/Government/FoodCouncil.asp

posted by: Razzie on June 26, 2013  4:21pm

“The NHI does a good job of portraying Justin as “Rich, White, Yalie’s Alderman Justin Elicker”.”

Sorry Curious, but if the shoe fits…..
Justin grew up in New Canaan, came to New haven 6 years ago as a Yale grad student. 3 years later he ran for Alderman and won, in a district which has since been redistricted to include a more diverse population than the “yuppie” gentrified Yale-oriented crowd it initially was.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on June 26, 2013  4:41pm

Seems to me Razzie is a hired hand… getting a little nasty are you not?? Really think that people have that much hate in them? Sad. Justin AGAIN has a large and diverse ward. You keep over talking that. I can bet you the people of Cedar Hill are far more color blind and give much more credit to those who deserve it. And Justin is in no way the kind of person you are trying to paint him as…but if it makes you feel like you are in control fine…go with it. Sad

posted by: Razzie on June 26, 2013  5:42pm

I’m not sure I understand what your comments are directed at. My comments are simply from Elicker’s bio, I haven’t added anything to it. If facts are difficult to confront, that’s not my fault.
I am not what you imply as being a “hired gun” (whatever that means in this context). To be sure, I have a candidate I truly believe in, like you I am sure. I am not for hire, and I suspect neither are you. We simply disagree on who best to represent the future of New Haven. That’s a fair disagreement to have. I mean to make sure the factual record on the candidates is complete.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on June 26, 2013  7:59pm

Too bad our communication is that bad. may time we talk and I never knew about these meetings. There is any chance to make them truly accessible to the public?  The time is terrible inconvenient (4 to 5:30) Many still working.

Please can you post the address? I don’t know where is the building.


” This Working Group meets monthly (next meeting: Thursday, July 11th, 4:00am-5:30pm at United Way). This group is open to the public and includes representatives from many soup kitchens and hunger organizations.

posted by: Tagan on June 26, 2013  9:38pm

Claudia, the Working Group meets at different times each month to try and accomodate people who run soup kitchens, and people with different schedules. Unfortunately there is no perfect time to reach everyone.

The United Way is at 370 James St in Fair Haven, across from the Chabaso Bakery. The Food Assistance Working Group meeting is in the community room there in July.

I have added you to our mailing list. All of our meetings are open to the public. We are an all volunteer council and we are doing our best to be as inclusive and collaborative as possible. We very much welcome you and your passion for food, health and the community to join us and make positive change!

posted by: cp06 on June 26, 2013  9:58pm

“No wrong door”? 
I like how Elicker makes the assumption that this doesn’t already happen. An easy fix for him, eh?

posted by: HhE on June 26, 2013  9:58pm

Razzie, you have dismissed those of us who are critical of your candidate as “haters.”  Yet you use words to describe Justin are, in New Haven, often used as devise code words.

Yes, New Canaan is predominantly middle and upper middle class.  I never lived there, nor was I employed in their public schools (albeit I once had a job interview), but I did teach in an after school program in that town.  So I have a pretty good idea about the place.  So what?  Worse case scenario, Justin has independent means and could have parlayed his connections into a high paying Wall Street job, but instead is here, trying to make his adoptive city better. 

Any show will fit if you have a big enough hammer.

posted by: Nicole Berube on June 27, 2013  12:59pm

As Executive Director of CitySeed, I am sad to see that there are false implications regarding the diversity of the New Haven Food Policy Council and that farmers’ markets are only the concern of white, middle class individuals. With over $109k in WIC FMNP, Senior FMNP, SNAP and a variety of other incentives and benefits spent at our 5 farmers’ markets and Mobile Market, our markets are CLEARLY not only the concern of one particular population. We work very hard with many community partners, to encourage signing up for SNAP, giving information on how to make delicious and nutritious meals on a budget with combinations of fresh produce and packaged/canned foods, how to cook and prepare locally grown produce inexpensively, providing a Double Value incentive for individuals using their SNAP dollars at our markets, providing a Mobile Market to some of New Haven’s most food insecure locations, and much more. We have a dual purpose to both address food access AND farm viability at farmers’ markets. It is my hope that more people come out and visit all 5 of our markets this year as well as our Mobile Market to actually see what we are all about. For our schedule go to http://www.cityseed.org. For anyone wishing to discuss our markets, their diversity, or any related matter, please contact me directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted by: Wikus van de Merwe on June 27, 2013  3:40pm

I know this is totally not the appropriate forum but I’ll ask it here anyways since it’s somewhat tangential.

Why are aren’t any of the trees we plant in the city food trees?  When I looked through the “Complete Streets” manual none of the recommended trees are fruit/nut trees.

posted by: Curious on June 27, 2013  4:30pm

Quinn, I have thought the same thing on numerous occasions.  I think maybe it’s because of watering needs?  Just a guess.

Contact URI and ask!


posted by: robn on June 27, 2013  4:35pm


Great question. My guess is that the city avoids edible producing trees for a couple of reasons
1) they naturally attract pests and need lots of attention and/or spraying to remain alive
2) rotting fruit on sidewalks is a slip hazard and won’t be cleaned by iinattentiveproperty owners.

Parks on the other hand, are ua bit different. Read about my man Semi’s efforts on this subject in Westville

posted by: HhE on June 27, 2013  4:37pm

Quinn Meadows, I think it is a fair question.  As I understand it, trees types were picked for their hardiness, height, and canopy.  The ideal trees won’t die on you, require little care, provide shade, and does not interfere with wires. 

I like the idea of fruit and nut trees held in common, and I think they could be a resource for our food poor.

posted by: Stephen Harris on June 27, 2013  5:50pm

This is why Justin has my vote. He’s engaged with the public, he truly cares about New Haven, and he’s always looking for creative solutions to problems.

posted by: Claudia Herrera on June 27, 2013  10:24pm

Nicole Berube

I will be happy to introduce and welcome you to my community of Fair Haven (not chatham Square). There are two NHF two blocks away where I live. I can insure you that if you walk with me the 90% of the people in this area have no idea what you’re talking about.  Maybe the location of the mobile farmer is not in the right place to reach the population that you are hoping to help for them take advantage of the programs, fresh products and nutritional education. to be honest with you I don’t know if the market is still over CSNA.  I am a cook and in my country Mexico City my mother stared a food business (we still have it) for over 30 years. I support the effort 100% about nutrition awareness but with all the respect with the support of my background.  I don’t think the community needs to learn to cook new meals (they are great cooks) Latino community have their own flavor and it will be very unsuccessful to convince people to “switch” I will suggest that your team needs to observe first our food, learn from us build a relationship and then you can share your acknowledge and suggestions about how to “bake in place to fried”  and hopefully they will stay with healthy choices with better chances to succeed with this effort. 
I will be happy to talk to you more about it since I am putting together an event about food, cook and business. “Cosina de las Americans” (Kitchen of the Americas) I am not a stranger Tagan know me but for some reason we never are in the same page. I am very interested to learn about all the programs you mention in your comment. For last, about the project the main goal is women’s empowerment not only as human rights, but also because we are the pathway to achieve Development Goals and sustainable development for me it is a good way to do by giving nutrition to our mind and body.  I will send you an email.

posted by: Nashstreeter on June 28, 2013  1:07am

It does look like Justin is embarked on a project of seeing how the other half lives, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of our politicians could benefit from his example.

The problem for me is that he looks at the situation and thinks that the way to improve things has to do with food stamp recipients’ meal-planning and strategizing abilities. Kind of hard to figure out how anybody can “strategize” on the average food stamp budget of $34 a week.  Be interesting to see just what kind of “education” he would offer folks on how to deal with that.

When you get right down to it, the problem with poor people is not their bad habits or lack of character or strategizing abilities. It’s that they just don’t have enough money. Come up with a way to fix that, and you’ve got my vote.

posted by: Curious on June 28, 2013  9:15am

Claudia, it is a lot to ask to have an organization come to you and learn how to cook your food so they can reach out to you.  Why don’t you try meeting them halfway?  I would bet that everyone using the system would benefit if the latino community got together with City Seed and made some great healthy recipes that could go on flyers to be handed out at the various farmer’s markets in New Haven.

For what it is worth, there is a City Seed farmer’s market just a fifteen minute walk from Chatham Square on Grand Avenue and Poplar Street

posted by: Claudia Herrera on June 28, 2013  10:21am

Curios , focus,
The invitation to Ms. Nicole Berube is for her don’ take my criticism as a fact and they can come and assess the challenges that are in the way for the community get the benefits of the valuable information and programs they are promoting.  For the record I did went to City Seed (at the beginning of the last year) ask for help and even mention this project.  I know some people there but like I said before for some reason we are not in the same page.  That is WHY I am moving forward the project “Cosina de las Americas”.  But since no money at all I am planning this project to be meaningful with the voluntary work and experience from a Latina Chef and cooks of my community.  It is valuable to mention that this ideas is not new, actually the whole idea come from few years back when our community started making pot lucks after our community clean ups.  So curius we are doing something, what are you doing?

posted by: streever on June 28, 2013  1:09pm

The reason why New Haven doesn’t have many food trees is largely because of the soil: full of lead, any food grown here would not fare well.

Yes, you can do raised beds, but those don’t work for food trees—and even in the case of vegetable gardens, I’d suggest checking the lead content of your raised bed after 3 years of operation.


Sad but true :(. This is why we need better, more careful environmental regulation—to prevent the next toxic lead before we know it is even possible!

posted by: HewNaven on June 29, 2013  11:00am


That’s not the only reason. Fruit trees actually require a lot of care throughout the season in order to get any decent harvest. Apple trees are constantly sprayed, and most trees need to be pruned at least once a year. Who would do those things, not to mention watering them when they’re young. Also, you won’t get any fruit (or nuts) for the first few years, and many trees need to be planted near each other for reproduction. Ornamentals, shade trees, etc. make a lot more sense.

Regardless, the lead problem is a real issue. On a dry, windy day, every barren lot and backyard (i.e. those with exposed soil) is blowing tiny, heavy metal particulates (e.g. lead) through the air into the lungs of anyone nearby. This is especially dangerous for the very young and very old and can cause permanent brain damage and learning disabilities. The city, and Yale University, and any other wealthy institution that claims to be engaged in a community prosperity pact, should address this dangerous environmental issue instead of ignoring it. At the very least, they could consult with residents and offer low-cost solutions.

posted by: streever on June 30, 2013  8:44am

I think you missed part of the story—Elicker doesn’t think that teaching is the best strategy in a vacuum. He thinks that the best strategy is to increase the food stamp amount.

As he said, he is unable to do that, but what he can do is tell residents that—for instance—the local farmers market doubles their food stamp amount when they shop there, which may, actually, help some needy families.

In the context of the actual situation that he is dealing with, I do think that he can do some good by helping connect residents with local resources.