Posts By Judith Gerber
Born of Triumph and Tragedy, Social Justice Org Fosters Health Equity and Well-being of Communities of ColorOctober 19, 2016 | Judith Gerber
Though D’Artagnan Scorza grew up economically disadvantaged amidst a food desert in South Los Angeles, his family created an oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables that left him wanting for nothing at home.
“My grandmother grew corn and bell peppers, and grafted trees, though I didn’t know what that was until I got older and began to understand the relationship between food and the land.”
Scorza’s family not only grew their own food, but also cooked it.
“The history in my family is connected to food. My grandmother held food culture high in our family and it has always had a strong place,” he says. “My aunts, uncles, nieces all cook. I cook.”
In Los Angeles, CA, community members involved in the urban farming and food justice movements are keenly aware of the food insecurity that is so prevalent in its South Los Angeles neighborhoods. It was this insufficient access to healthy, nutritious food that spurred Florence Nishida to co-found LA Green Grounds, a volunteer organization that works with residents of South L.A. to convert their front lawns and parkways into edible landscapes and urban farms.
“If you have a garden in the front yard it leads to conversation, and that’s the most important thing,” says Nishida. “The minute you start growing squash, tomatoes, or something people have never seen before, they start asking questions, and that starts the conversation. Those conversations lead to a sense of community.”
Making vegetables a visible part of the community is what has guided LA Green Grounds ever since its founding in 2010.
As major league baseball teams enter the playoffs with dreams of reaching the World Series, fans are soaking in the last games of the season. I am one of these fans, who at press time, is worried about the chances of my favorite team, the San Francisco Giants, earning a Wild Card spot. While focused on baseball, I thought it was a good time for me to write about two of my favorite things: baseball and local food.
Surprisingly, there is a very direct connection between baseball and local food. Baseball stadiums do not close down once the world champion is declared. Many have developed community partnerships and programs that operate in the off-season and focus on improving nutrition and community health. That is why several big league teams including the Boston Red Sox, the Washington Nationals, and the Colorado Rockies’ have installed edible gardens that are helping to educate fans about local food systems.
In Fight Against Waste and Food Insecurity, SoCal Gleaning Org Recovers Millions of Pounds of Fresh ProduceSeptember 22, 2016 | Judith Gerber
The number of food insecure residents in Southern California is staggering. According to Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director of Food Forward, there are nearly 2.4 million people in Los Angeles and surrounding counties who lack access to sufficient quantities of affordable, nutritious food. If that number were a state “its population would rest somewhere in between Nevada and New Mexico in size,” says Nahmias.
That is the challenge that Food Forward tackles each and every day by recovering excess fruits and vegetables and donating them to local agencies that feed the hungry.
One of the largest diocese in the nation, the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has made food justice a top priority. In 2013, it created Seeds of Hope, a food justice ministry that “provides universal and affordable access to basic nutrition,” says Seeds of Hope Executive Director, Tim Alderson. “In the six California counties that make up the Diocese of Los Angeles, that condition does not exist. Our job is to do what we can to address these issues.”
The idea for Seeds of Hope was conceived when Bishop Jon Bruno was diagnosed with leukemia and admitted for his final treatment at City of Hope. Though not his patient, he met endocrinologist Raynald Samoa, M.D. who was covering rounds. The two men spent over two hours talking about food related illnesses, food access issues and disparities of food health in communites. Dr. Samoa also knew Alderson, who was working on a farm project for City of Hope.