An “equitable food project”. Do you think of Backpack Buddies that way? Probably not, but that’s how Prodeo teacher Jennifer Christensen presented it. She started the Salon by asking members to think about where we would go to buy fresh produce, meat, gluten-free items. How would we get there? How would we carry the items home? For members, the answers are easy. Most of us have cars and we all have multiple options for shopping. But if we lived in North Minneapolis, the story is different. It’s by definition a food desert. For urban areas, that means a 1 mile radius without affordable, nutritious grocery options.
To underline the point she shared minute 1 to about 5 of the documentary “Living in a Food Desert” that really brought home the domino effect of not having healthy food options nearby.
The group then broke up into twos and wrote suggestions on flip charts for how to change the food desert by topic: connections, services, time, money, goods. Ideas ranged from babysitting at the grocery store to volunteer delivery to community gardens.
So what does a food desert have to do with the achievement gap? Well here’s another reframing: think of it as the opportunity gap. It’s not about whether a child can achieve, but whether he or she has opportunities. If a child comes to school unprepared, not surprisingly, they struggle. They lose that opportunity for academic success, which is a key step to economic self-sufficiency. And that’s where Backpack Buddies comes in. By removing a barrier to learning (hunger), we’re helping with one part of the equation for success. And creating more equity.
Jennifer ended the session by sharing some of the organizations working to end the desert by bringing healthy food options to North Minneapolis:
· Busy Bee Food. Healthy food delivered directly. www.busybeefoods.com
· Wirth Co-op (opening in the next year): www.wirth.coop/
· North Market from Pillsbury United Communities (opening fall 2017) www.puc-mn.org/venture/north-market
Check them out and think about how you can create equity.
JLM Advocacy: Providing education to inspire members to action