Through funding from Kaiser Permanente’s Healthy Eating in Hard Times Program, the food bank’s community outreach programs are combining education, outreach and capacity building activities with access to fresh produce to our target pilot sites. This two-year pilot initiative is focusing on Ward 8 communities and seeks to work closely with our targeted partners to implement this new approach and measure its impact in the community. We hope to develop long-term goals related to increasing fresh produce and education efforts with our partners.
Greater Access to Produce
The community center at Southern Ridge Apartments, a Community and Preservation Development Corporation property in Ward 8 is a Kids Cafe site and was chosen to be part of this pilot initiative. Through the Kids Cafe program, Southern Ridge receives snacks and suppers to serve to kids ages 5-18 who attend the center every day after school. In an effort to combine education and greater access to nutritious fresh produce, we held two cooking demonstrations for residents of Southern Ridge. Through an established relationship with the Ward 8 Farmers Market and this grant, we were able to offer any resident who attended the demonstrations $20 to purchase fresh produce items at the market held at THEARC.
Food For Kids Manager Grace Lichaa led both cooking demonstrations. She chose fresh produce items that would be accessible at the farmers market and used them to make great fall foods. In September, Grace made sweet potato chips in the toaster oven and collard greens cooked with onions, sliced crisp apples and vegetable broth. The collard greens brought on a great discussion of the many ways residents cook their own collard greens!
At the next cooking demonstration in October, which had another great turn-out of new residents and return guests, Grace made sweet potato black bean soup… in the microwave, with the option of topping off the soup with fresh cilantro purchased at the market. This was a big hit! She also made massaged kale salad with a fresh lemon and garlic dressing.
These cooking demonstrations have been a great success. Twenty dollars for produce and the sharing of food and ideas is a huge incentive to bring people to the community center, but the cooking demonstrations have proven to be more than this. Residents come together and make connections with each other, share events, such as a turkey give-away in time for Thanksgiving, at a local church, Ms. Cora Clark-Miles, the Resident Services Manager is able to spread the word about the many free trainings and events she is hosting for the residents, and most of all, a sense of community is instilled in those in attendance.