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Posts Tagged ‘food access’

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Photo: Jackson Food and Art Festival
A food festival in Mississippi incorporates the arts to address nutrition issues.

It’s a good thing that philanthropies are able to support projects that improve lives in communities, because low-income municipalities can’t afford to tackle as many concerns as they’d like. Among the initiatives that Bloomberg Philanthropies supports are arts programs that address human needs.

As ArtForum reports, “Jackson, Mississippi, is the latest city to be awarded a $1 million Public Art Challenge Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. … The funds will support the project ‘Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access,’ which aims to inform policy related to nutrition by using art as a medium to communicate the complexities of the issue in the city. Local and national artists, landscape architects, filmmakers, farmers, chefs, nutritionists, and community members will be invited to collaborate on a citywide exhibition featuring installations and performances, as well as other programming.

“The initiative will activate public streets, community gardens, a local elementary school, and a vacant building, which will be converted into exhibition space and a food lab with a pop-up kitchen, to address challenges stemming from the proliferation of fast food restaurants in the area. According to the Clarion-Ledger, many areas of Jackson are considered food swamps where there is almost no access to grocery stores.

Due to the overabundance of fast food, the city has the second highest obesity rate in the nation and the highest rate for children between the ages of ten and seventeen.

“ ‘The city is overjoyed to have been selected in this process,’ Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said in a statement. ‘This was a highly competitive grant.’ …

“Among those participating in the project are artists Adrienne Domnick and Kara Walker; filmmakers Keegan Kuhn and Roderick Red; Mark Bittman, the country’s first food-focused op-ed columnist for the New York Times and a faculty member of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health; chef Nick Wallace; clean eating advocate Ron Finley; and landscape architect Walter Hood.

“In February [2018], Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of US cities with thirty thousand residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues.” More here.

And click here to read descriptions of other winning projects, including one to help heal the community after the Parkland school shooting: “The City of Coral Springs in partnership with the City of Parkland proposes developing five temporary installations to bring the community together in collective healing and reflection following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of 2018. The artworks will serve as the community’s vision of change and hope for the future. The project will draw on and support Coral Springs Museum of Art’s ‘Healing with Art,’ an art therapy program which began as an immediate response to the shooting.”

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Photo: http://www.mlive.com/
Seitu Jones, a St Paul, Minnesota, artist who teaches urban food systems at the University of Minnesota is behind the community meal that won an art award.

Minnesota is home to many cutting-edge artistic endeavors, and the one described by Jim Harger at mlive.com is no exception. It’s neighborhood picnic as work of art.

“The ArtPrize Nine jurors — each of them experts in art — went for a neighborhood picnic in awarding the $200,000 juried grand prize for ArtPrize Nine.

” ‘Heartside Community Meal,’ an outdoor meal for 250 guests in Heartside Park on Sept. 23, was entered by Seitu Jones, a Saint Paul, Minnesota, artist who teaches urban food systems at the University of Minnesota.

” ‘This is a project that came out of love,’ said Jones after the award was announced on Friday, Oct. 6.

“The meal, served on a 300-foot-long table in Heartside Park, was aimed at engaging residents of the mixed-income neighborhood with each other over a table of locally produced foods. …

” ‘Seitu’s work speaks to some of the key issues in America now,’ [juror Gaetane] Verna said. ‘Access to food, access to community and people being able to create a space of conversation, exchange and synergy for everyone. He speaks to what is important in the context of the “now” in his practice, not just the ability to paint or draw.’

“Juror Scott Stulen, director and president of Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, nominated ‘Heartside Community Meal,’ saying he was struck by the event, where

‘people were sitting down and talking to people they would never talk to otherwise.’ …

“Inviting residents of condos and luxury apartments to dine with homeless residents who live beneath overpasses was a challenge for both groups, Jones said.

“Guests, both rich and poor, were moved by the experience, said Jones, who declared, ‘Of course this is art!’ when asked about the artistic nature of the big meal.”

More here.

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Babson College in Wellesley, Mass., is well known as a hub for entrepreneurship. So the school was the logical place to help start-ups offering farmers distribution services, marketing, and the like learn how to grow their business. A training was held at Babson at the end of December, and the New York Times covered it.

Stephanie Strom writes, “In spite of the surging demand for locally and regionally grown foods over the last few years, there is a chasm separating small and midsize farmers from their local markets.

“But a growing number of small businesses are springing up to provide local farmers and their customers with marketing, transportation, logistics and other services, like the Fresh Connection, a trucking business providing services to help farms around New York City make deliveries. …

“The Fair Food Network, a nonprofit organized to improve access to better food, recently held a second ‘business boot camp’ in Wellesley, Mass., for tiny companies working to increase ties between communities and local farmers, which culminated in a contest to win some $10,000. …

“For farmers selling products to a number of customers, there are so-called food hubs like Red Tomato, which connects its network of farms to existing wholesale distribution systems to make deliveries of locally grown fruits and vegetables to groceries, produce distributors, restaurants and schools in the Northeast. …

“Not all ways of improving consumer access to local and regional farm production involve distribution, however. Blue Ox Malthouse, for instance, is making malt from barley grown in Maine as a cover crop. Normally, farmers plow barley under or sell it cheaply for animal feed.  Blue Ox has given them a new and more lucrative market, though, buying up barley and turning it into malt in hopes of selling it to Maine’s thriving craft beer businesses. …

“It’s good for the farmers, who get a better price for a product they often just plowed under, and it’s good for the craft beer business, where brewers are always looking for points of distinction,” [founder Joel] Alex said.”

Read about some other great services for small farms here.

Photo: Michael Appleton for The New York Times
Mark Jaffe of the Fresh Connection picks up fresh eggs from a farmer’s stand in Union Square, Manhattan. He will make deliveries to restaurants and groceries.

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Did you catch Luke Runyon’s story about a trend in suburban housing that sites homes near farms for the fresh food? It was at National Pubic Radio today (courtesy of Harvest Public Media).

According to Runyon, “There’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

“It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together.

” ‘These projects are becoming more and more mainstream,’ says Ed McMahon, a fellow with the Urban Land Institute. He estimates that more than 200 developments with an agricultural twist already exist nationwide. …

“In Fort Collins, Colo., developers are currently constructing one of the country’s newest development-supported farms. At first blush, the Bucking Horse development looks like your average halfway-constructed subdivision. But look a bit closer and you’ll see a historic rustic red farm house and a big white barn …

“When finished, Bucking Horse will support more than 1,000 households. Agriculture and food production are the big draws, [developer Kristin] Kirkpatrick says. Land has been set aside for vegetables. There will be goats and chickens, too, subsidized by homeowners. Soon they’ll be hiring a farmer for a 3.6-acre CSA farm. There’s also a plaza designed for a farmers market, and an educational center where homeowners can take canning classes.”

Sounds like fun. Read more.

Photo: Serenbe Farms
Paige Witherington is the farmer at Serenbe Farms, a 30-acre certified organic and biodynamic farm adjacent to a housing development outside Atlanta. It’s one of more than 200 subdivisions with an agricultural twist nationwide.

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If you had to guess one church in San Francisco that would be all over the idea of rooftop gardening to feed whoever needs feeding, which one would it be?

Right. Glide. I like its garden’s name: Graze the Rooftop.

“Graze the Roof is an edible, community-produced vegetable garden on the rooftop of Glide Memorial Church, a progressive church and nonprofit located in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.

“Graze the Roof features lightweight (upcycled) raised garden beds made from milk crates; a worm composting system and an educational mural which ties the whole project together. Glide youth and volunteers from throughout the Bay Area maintain the garden and host monthly tours and workshops.”

Do you live in the San Francisco area? Looks like there are a lot of fun workshops available, such as Designing Sustainable Habitats, Introduction to Permaculture, and Urban Fruit Tree Stewardship. Read more here.

Photo: Graze the Roof

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Panera Bread has set up a foundation to fund Panera Cares, a pay-what-you-can opportunity for buying baked goods, sandwiches, and meals.

“The concept was born during the tough days of the recession. [Panera co-chief executive Ron] Shaich saw a television story about a cafe in Colorado that fed everyone at whatever price they could afford, which he said inspired him to find ways for Panera to address ‘food insecurity.’ …

“By May 2010, the first Panera Cares had opened in Clayton, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. For the first one and others since then in Dearborn, Mich., Portland, Ore., and Chicago, Panera Cares sought locations that are easily accessible by public transportation and that attract economically diverse customers. …

“Panera’s vendors contributed to the [Boston] effort, giving about $80,000 worth of free furniture and lighting, along with cameras and and coffee. The rest of the money needed to open the store, an estimated $1 million, is being absorbed by Panera Bread’s corporate operations.

“ ‘It is a community cafe of shared responsibility,’ [Kate Antonacci, project manager of Panera Cares] said. ‘One of the goals of this charitable program is to help ensure that everyone who needs a meal gets one and to raise the level of awareness about food insecurity in the country.”

The Boston Globe’s Jenn Abelson has more here, with a follow-up on the successful first week in Boston, here. See the Christian Science Monitor‘s take, here.

Will you go? Will you pay full price or a bit more for others?

Photograph: John Tlumacki / Globe Staff
The Panera Cares Community Cafe opened in Center Plaza on January 24 with a pay-as-you-can approach.

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Erik says he cannot see the appeal of peanut butter. Kids in Sweden never had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches growing up, he says.

I, however, was raised on peanut butter, taking sandwiches in my school lunch that ran the gamut from peanut butter and jelly to peanut butter and whatever was in the house — cucumber, coconut, banana, celery, green pepper, mayonnaise.

Peanut butter is high in protein and recommended in pregnancy, which is why Suzanne got back into it when she was expecting.

Today, as Tracy Boyer writes at the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, nonprofits are adding extra nutrients to peanut butter and getting the inexpensive protein-rich food into the tummies of undernourished children in poor countries.

“Deep in the mountains of southwestern Honduras, Maria Digna Ramos Mendoza spoon-feeds Plumpy’Doz, a peanut-based supplement, to her infant daughter.

“Four other hungry children watch while either sitting on the dirt floor of their one-room hut or swinging from a hammock. Chickens, dogs and rats roam around the cluttered room, scavenging for their next meal.

“Mendoza is part of a research study being conducted by professors and students at [the University of North Carolina], part of the University’s larger focus on international health. Researchers aim to improve the growth and development of young infants in rural Honduras.

“The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition, a philanthropic organization founded by former Iams CEO and board chairman Clayton L. Mathile, funds the year-long project [2009].

“The study is also in conjunction with the U.S. nonprofit organization Shoulder to Shoulder, an organization founded and directed by UNC School of Medicine faculty member Dr. Jeffrey Heck. …

UNC alumna Yanire Estrada [was recruited] “to lead a team of 11 local and U.S. health promoters to provide educational sessions for the mothers and assess each infant’s health on a monthly basis.

“Estrada’s team evaluates nearly 300 infants from 18 villages in both a control and intervention group. Heck insisted that both groups receive some beneficial subsidy for participating in the study, so every mother obtains food vouchers in addition to the educational sessions. …

“The intervention group receives Plumpy’Doz, a fortified lipid-based peanut butter spread, packed with essential nutrients including zinc, iron and vitamin A. The supplement is given to the infants three times a day in addition to their normal diet. …

UNC public health professor Margaret Bentley “noticed the easy access to cheap, packaged snacks and soft drinks that exists in North Carolina also exists in Santa Lucia. Both are troubling, as Honduran mothers feed this junk food to their infants, causing chronic diarrhea and sickness.

“ ‘I don’t think about working overseas as working over there (with) no connection to North Carolina,’ Bentley said. ‘Any problem that we have in North Carolina has a mirror image in another place.’ …

“Back in the mud hut, Mendoza stares lovingly as her infant begins eating Plumpy’Doz straight from the jar. Just six months ago, her daughter’s fragility deeply concerned her, but now she prides herself as she watches the color return to her child’s face.

“ ‘People stop me to ask what I am feeding my child because she is beginning to look so pretty,’ Mendoza said. ‘She is developing extremely well now.’ ”

More.

Photograph: Pulitzer Center

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