Duke alum helps address the root causes of poor health in the region

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

There is a significant connection between housing stability and food access. Families experiencing financial hardship may have little money left for food after paying their rent or mortgage, or they may live in disinvested neighborhoods where access to healthy, affordable food is less likely. The current economic crisis caused by the pandemic has led to devastating consequences for those who were already struggling. 

Duke Alum, Jason Goldblatt, recognizes the importance for both affordable housing and access to healthy food. Goldblatt is the Chairman and CEO of Foundation Housing, a non-profit whose mission is to preserve affordable housing around the country to ensure there are affordable options for people who are unable to afford the high cost of housing. 

“When the pandemic hit, one of the things we really started to see was not only were people struggling with their rent, but they were struggling with other housing costs, most significantly the cost of food,” says Goldblatt. 

“When the pandemic hit, one of the things we really started to see was not only were people struggling with their rent, but they were struggling with other housing costs, most significantly the cost of food."

Goldblatt reached out to the Duke development office who presented him a number of different options that were aligned with his desire to help out with food insecurity within the region. 

“The one that jumped out to me was Root Causes,” recalls Goldblatt. 

Root Causes is an organization founded by a group of Duke Medical Students that is focused on healing the food system through education and outreach, community service, and advocacy. They partner with the hospitals, clinics, and the community to help improve the Duke Health food environment. One of their key projects includes the Fresh Produce Program, which delivers bags of produce and other household items to local families in need. 

“The Durham community holds a very dear place in my heart,” says Goldblatt. “I wanted to make sure that any money we gave was going to address the issue of food insecurity in the region.” 

Due to the gracious donation received on behalf of Jason and his company, the Root Causes organization was able to expand to help more families in the area gain access to healthier food and other household staples. 

“I was really pleased to be able to support Root Causes because it’s supporting an issue that is critical.”