Broad Street, which has long bisected the city of New Orleans, was an economic hub in the early 1900s before disinvestment and traffic changes took a serious toll on its sense of place. Today, it’s a stark illustration of the challenges facing many US communities – and an even starker dividing line: There’s a 20-year difference in life expectancy between the neighborhoods on either side. 

Enter Broad Community Connections (BCC) and its ReFresh Project, a vibrant coalition of health-, wellness- and food-access organizations devoted to preserving the culture and improving the health of Broad Street’s community and residents through healthy and affordable food, community engaged programming, education, job training, and more.

Today, neighborhood residents come to the ReFresh site to shop and work in an affordable branch of Whole Foods Market; attend Liberty’s Kitchen culinary work readiness and leadership program for at-risk youth; study with Tulane University’s Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine (GCCM); garden with SPROUT NOLA at their on-site teaching farm,and access Boys Town’s services for at-risk children and youth. There’s also the offices of Broad Community Connections, Crescent City Community Land Trust, and FirstLine Schools.

In 2016, NFF worked with GCCM, as part of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation planning grant, on a strategic plan to scale their Continuing Medical Education curricula and teaching kitchen delivery model to other medical schools across the country. The plan helped GCCM lay the foundation for faithful replication of this innovative program and win an RWJF three-year implementation grant.

“So many factors go into whether someone is healthy, and most if not all are systemic,” said Elizabeth Burpee, ReFresh coordinator at BCC. “When you put all these like-minded people in the same building, magic happens.”