Spotlight: BNHC & Vicente’s Tropical Grocery

We are pleased to offer the July 2015 installment of our Spotlight series to highlight MPHA partners and friends from across the state who are changing lives and communities to improve health and advance health equity. This month we are highlighting an innovative new partnership between the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center and Vicente’s Tropical Grocery in Brockton, MA. 

Kristina and Rebekah (far left) with members of BNHC and Vicente's Tropical Grocery in their new space

Kristina and Rebekah (far left) with members of BNHC and Vicente’s Tropical Grocery in their new space

In June MPHA’s Executive Director Rebekah Gewirtz and Coalition and Field Organizer Kristina St. Cyr visited Brockton, MA to meet with partners at the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center (BNHC).  Rebekah and Kristina met with Sue Joss, Executive Director for the BNHC, who shared with them details of an exciting and innovative collaboration for the betterment of community health.  This exciting collaboration was between the BNHC and local grocery store owner, Jason Barbosa, of Vicente’s Tropical Grocery.

With the help of Federal Healthy Food Financing dollars and the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center as a partner, Vicente’s was able to close the deal on a previously abandoned building and lot in downtown Brockton to open a brand new grocery store.  Due to this strategic partnership the BNHC prevented the installment of another fast food chain in the neighborhood-instead of a fast food chain, the space will be shared with a new BNHC clinic. In Massachusetts, nearly one million residents do not have adequate access to grocery stores which provide healthier foods at more affordable prices. The partnership between the BNHC and Vicente’s Tropical Grocery is exciting because it not only made it possible for healthy and affordable food options to become available in downtown Brockton, it is also adding additional health and educational benefits to the community.

The space adjacent to the grocery store will be BNHC’s second clinic location. The clinic site will serve adult primary care patients, and together with the grocery store, will offer nutrition and cooking classes, provide grocery store tours to inform healthier purchases, and offer incentives for buying healthier products that will ultimately improve health outcomes like obesity and diabetes.  This is a great example of a non-traditional partnership with the potential for great public health impact.  This partnership is one of the first in the nation and will certainly be looked to as a model for replication elsewhere in Massachusetts and nationwide. Great work Brockton, we cannot wait for the health center’s opening in September 2015!

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