Posts By Annamarie Sysling
Increasing access to fresh and healthy food in “food deserts,” defined as low-income urban areas where a substantial number or share of residents has very limited access to a large grocery store or supermarket, requires creativity, resourcefulness and drive.
And it is drive that resulted in the creation of a grocery store on wheels that enables Moreno Valley-based Family Service Association (FSA) to tackle trenchant food access problems in Riverside and San Bernardino, two of the largest counties in the United States.
Family Service Association (FSA), an organization that builds community “one family at a time, through compassion, advocacy and comprehensive model services, fostering self-sufficiency and sustainable impacts,” launched mobile fresh market pilot project, Mobile Fresh, in December 2013. Program Director Joey Romero says at the time, Mobile Fresh was run out of a van, and FSA advertised the new mobile grocery service at some of its offices and local child care and community centers. “We parked, put a table out there and put out some fresh fruits and vegetables,” recalls Romero.
In the northwest area of Detroit, residents of the Brightmoor community are preparing to open the neighborhood’s first-ever commercial kitchen and community gathering space.
The Brightmoor Artisans Community Kitchen is scheduled to open at the end of April, and with it will come a wave of local gardeners-turned-entrepreneurs.
Brightmoor has been known in past years as a food desert–the kind of place where, for many children, an after-school snack meant a trip to the liquor store for a sugary soda and bag of chips. But things are changing now. Healthier options grow in individual and community urban gardens throughout the four-square-mile neighborhood.
Dr. Richard Bryce is Senior Staff Physician of Family Medicine at the Community Health and Social Services Center (CHASS) in Detroit. He’s also a “farmacist.”
Dr. Bryce writes prescriptions for fresh fruits and vegetables through the program, Fresh Prescription, which connects low-income patients with chronic diseases related to poor nutrition to farmers markets and nutrition and cooking and counseling services.
We asked Bryce about the program and how it’s helping patients with dietary-related health issues.
Former Trader Joe’s President Doug Rauch is turning the traditional grocery store model on its head with Daily Table, a new not-for-profit retail store that’s putting customers’ health and finances first.
The grocer’s first location opened in June of 2015 in Dorchester, Mass., and Daily Table Senior Director Fredi Shonkoff says the Boston-area community has warmly embraced the new store as a nutritious and cost-effective option.
While the issue of food accessibility in low-income neighborhoods is not new, in recent years awareness of the problem has grown. The Sacramento, California-based Food Literacy Center is tackling the issue by engaging and educating the city’s youth.
Since 2011, the Food Literacy Center’s Founding Executive Director Amber Stott has been utilizing her background in social work to transform the health of her community.
“Food literacy is as important as reading and math,” says Stott.
Stott says she started thinking about proactive ways to address the issue of illiteracy around healthy, fresh food options in 2008.