Improving Food Access in Prince Georges Food DesertThrough education and community involvementGroup 1: Ayla Cash, Heba Elnaiem, Eliza Mette, Dexter Thomas
Group 2: Maddie Epping, Johnetta Saygbe, Brian Smith, Alec Walker
Hello, and thank you for attending our presentation on.. Blah blah blah.1
Introduction:Food DesertsHard to find nutritious, affordable foodPoverty and poor health reinforce one anotherUSDA identified 10 food deserts in prince Georges County, including Capitol Heights
We have referred to food deserts in the Academy before, but just to make sure everyone is on the same page, a food desert is defined by the USDA as parts of the country void of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods. These are usually found in impoverished areas, largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers markets, and healthy food providers.
This has become a big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to a number of diet-related health problems. The food desert problem has in fact become such an issue that the USDA has outlined a map of our nations food deserts.
Worse, of the few supermarkets in these struggling areas, few accept Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) payments.
Poverty and poor health thus reinforce one another in a vicious cycle of dependency.
In July, the USDA identified 10 food deserts in Prince Georges County, including Capitol Heights, Maryland.
Capitol Heights, MDhttp://wapo.st/1ikGZ6L
We decided to specifically focus on Capitol Heights after reading an article in the Washington Post about the area and attempts from community residents to address it via a vegan food truck. We learned that in Capitol Heights, 70% of adults are obese or overweight and 71% of restaurants are fast-food outlets. Further, many residents battle with ailments that can be related to diet, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gout, and heart disease.
Now that we had a specific area in mind that we have realistic access to, we started to brainstorm about how to actually address the issue. We initially decided to start a local community garden, but discovered that the Town Hall of Capitol Heights already had one. And this led to our first contacts in the community.3
Community ContactMet with Town Hall administratorsLed to potential projects:Community education initiative at Capitol Heights ESGot Hope & food distributionWrap-up with community block party
Group representatives headed down to Capitol Heights to meet with a couple of the Town Hall administrators and to take a tour of the community garden. We were also referred to two additional community contacts an interested teacher at Capitol Heights Elementary School and Got Hope, a group of community residents who take it upon themselves to redistribute fruit and vegetables to senior citizens in the area.
After forming specific objectives, we separated into two sub-groups one to focus on education, starting with putting together a curriculum with the teacher at the elementary school oriented around healthy eating and urban farming. And another to work with Got Hope in order to distribute food grown in the community garden.
We then put together an agenda and a timeline, and began to meet in these separate sub-groups with one bi-monthly umbrella meeting to touch base with one another. Our ultimate goal being to unite again in the end via a community block party, which meant that group representatives would continue to meet with administrators to plan this.
Group 1:Garden-Grown Food RedistributionMade contact with Got HopeBegan to assess specific needs:Food storage problemHave consistent food supply, but going to waste without anywhere to store itUnable to afford 501(c)(3) fee
The first group made contact with Got Hope and began to assess their specific needs and form realistic objectives, including using the community grown produce as primary food supply for distribution.
However, after eliciting specific feedback from Got Hope, we discovered that they already have a consistent food supply so much, in fact, that they dont have sufficient storage space. Got Hope expressed that they were in need of a large storage space, as much of their food was going to waste simply due to an inability to store it. They also expressed wanting to become incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit group, but had not been able to afford the $850 fee needed to do so. Yet, being a non-profit would make it easier to elicit donations, utilize community resources, and potentially even secure better storage space in the long-run.
Group 2:Community Education Initiative PTA and teacher contact at Capitol Heights ESHealthy Eating and Urban Farming curriculumLack of response or interest from schoolShift in educational outreach efforts to seniors
And the second group started to work on a mini-curriculum titled Healthy Eating and Urban Farming for the youth. The goal being to work with a teacher to implement a sustainable curriculum.
Unfortunately, making contact was a lot more difficult than we had anticipated. After we got a hold of the principal, she expressed enthusiasm and interest. (Eliza briefly summarize story here), then lead to:
after a lack of response from the elementary school, we shifted our educational outreach efforts. We learned through the Town Hall and Got Hope that they were concerned about neglecting senior citizens in the community, who have extremely limited mobility and resources.
Project Evolution & MergeConcern about long-term impact Decision to merge and delegate tasks to individuals and smaller sub-groupsWorking in direct response to community vs. our initial objectives
Given what we had learned from the community, members overall expressed concern about having a long-term impact. We decided that education could encompass more than increasing awareness of the community garden but to other resources in the community, such as Got Hope and healthy eating resources overall. And now, by actually working WITH and in direct response to the community, to shift our focus on how to make Got Hope more successful so they can continue to grow and address this issue in our absence.
After extensive contact with and in response to the community, we decided to shift away from community garden awareness and to merge in order to be the more efficient. Instead of two sub-groups, tasks were then delegated to individuals and smaller sub-groups in order to most efficiently accomplish our more informed objectives. And this led to four sub-projects.
Result 1:Healthy Living Booklet "What information would encourage individuals to buy healthier foods? Is it recipes with prices, information on how to get to the grocery store, or information on the benefits of eating healthy?
All of these things would be helpful. Basically, a guide with clear-cut info on how to make eating healthy easy is what the goal should be, and this info would greatly contribute to that. Ms. Payne, Got Hope
For instance, community residents involved in Got Hope expressed a need for community-specific nutrition information, especially for the senior community. In an interview with the group, one of the residents, Ms.Payne, specifically requested a guidebook.
Alec show cover page keep this brief. Just, This is the cover, blah blah
[Alec keep brief also, just an example page]
We pulled a few specific ideas from this interview. Since Got Hope supplies fruits and veggies to the community, we designed the "What you might find in your basket..." section to give people ideas of why these foods are beneficial to their health and simple ideas for how to prepare them. 11
Result 2:Senior Healthful Eating WorkshopAffordability of Healthy Food (5 min presentation)Small group activitiesSugar savvy, disease risk, nutrition needsFood preparation in small groupsEverlasting Life samplesWrap-up, followed by Q&A
Other members started to work with a town hall administrator to create a healthful eating workshop appropriate for senior citizens. The town hall would host and advertise the event, and we were in charge of actually designing and implementing the event.
We initially designed a series of presentations in response to topics presented to us from the Town Hall but later learned that this was a misunderstanding and that they preferred fun, hands-on activities. In response to this, we created a detailed agenda for the event with a much smaller, 5 minute presentation. Then to break up into smaller, interactive groups. Given that the kitchen in town hall does not have any way to cook food, we put together raw meal preparation activities (bean salad, kale salad, guac) from ingredients that they could get from Got Hope or the community garden. We received educational materials, such as a nutrition rainbow, from a local group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. And we also received an agreement from a local vegan restaurant, Everlasting Life, to provide prepared food donations and menus. 12
Result 3:Fundraising Event
To raise money for the filing fee to get Got Hope 501(c)(3) non-profit status, we