Food, Sustainability, and Microenterprise

18 May

In our February newsletter we highlighted some of the ongoing efforts taking place in the food access and food justice movements. Although there is still much work to be done before our food systems become more equitable, there are several initiatives that provide incentives for grocery stores to locate in food desert communities. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of urban farms and community gardens in low-income communities – so we’re moving in the right direction.

In addition to providing locally-sourced food and getting people to eat their veggies, urban farms and community gardens are working to develop economically viable and sustainable local food systems that generate revenue for the community.

The Social Justice Learning Institute, a community-based organization in Inglewood, launched its 100 Seeds of Change initiative in 2011. The Los Angeles-based Community Services Unlimited, and the People’s Grocery out of Oakland have been explicit about their goals to promote healthy eating and life styles, while increasing economic opportunities in low-income areas.

In New York City, Green Carts have become one means through which the city is attempting to bring fresh produce to neighborhoods that have been identified as food deserts. More than getting apples and oranges in the hands of residents, the green carts program is also increasing opportunities for microenterprise and offering new ways for street vendors to receive licensing to sell their goods.

A recently released documentary titled The Apple Pushers tracks immigrant street vendors who are making a living by selling fresh produce in New York’s food deserts. The film highlights the intersection of food access, city politics, immigration, and entrepreneurship.

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