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Starfish Place, First Step to a Fresh Start

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

Starfish Place and Caring Coalition Partner to Create Food Security

Dominique Roe-Sepowitz

Phoenix Starfish Place is a HUD-funded permanent supportive housing program for women who have experienced sex trafficking and their minor children. The program is a partnership between the City of Phoenix Housing and Human Services Departments and ASU Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research. Currently we have 47 clients (15 moms and 32 children) living at Phoenix Starfish Place in independent apartments. Our families range in size from two to ten family members. Starfish place supports the families with clinical services such as trauma group, nutritional counseling, and acupuncture as well as supportive case management.

In October 2020, ASU conducted a survey of clients. Nine clients reported that they were very concerned about running out of food each week. For most clients this stemmed from needing to provide food for their children for breakfast and lunch due to school closures and, as a result, classes being conducted online. The SNAP benefits families receive are not enough to provide an adequate amount of good nutrition for many families, per the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

In November of 2020 Starfish Place partnered with Caring Coalition to create a non-perishable food pantry. This helped to fill the gaps, creating a greater sense of food security for our clients. The clients voted on how this resource would be used. They decided the food pantry would be open from 5-7:30 pm Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays each week and that with each visit to the food pantry a family could take 20 food items or less. Clients bring their own re-usable bags. Each client is allowed one visit per week.

Having choices is important for our clients. Our goal is to inform and empower; giving our families the support they need to make choices about their lives and their children’s lives. The ability to choose the food they eat is one of many small steps to self-determination.

The food provided by Caring Coalition is high quality, low sugar and often organic. Access to higher quality food has expanded our clients’ awareness of good nutrition and helped them to come up with new meal plans. The food pantry has had 121 visits by clients since it opened. Having healthy food readily available is making a big difference for our families!

Learn more about Starfish Place

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