I spent my first day out in the fields last Thursday. Literally! The first stop was the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden, NJ, which helps provide fresh produce for neighborhood children and adults, much of which is grown in nearby vacant lots (http://www.cfet.org/ ). Their retreat house served as a place to host a make your own picnic for two Get HYPE! Leadership Councils. It was a great opportunity to learn more about the HYPE program directly from the kids and teachers who run the program in their elementary schools. It was also very sobering to learn about some of the challenges of urban farming and living in under served communities. For example, some of the lots CFET uses have been contaminated with lead or other toxic materials. So, the only way to utilize the space is to use raised garden beds with new, uncontaminated soil. It’s something most of us have never had to think about and certainly put the challenges of growing up in under served areas front and center. It was really amazing to walk around these spaces with such enthusiastic kids.
Late that same day, we headed over to another Get HYPE Camden! partner school to set up our first ever Pop Up Market, complete with a cooking demonstration from the South Jersey Food Bank. There were separate tables for each food group – fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein. Families who attended were able to fill up a reusable grocery bag with something from each table while the YMCA hosted soccer and other games in the gym. It was a huge hit – over 50 families attended – and we got some great ideas on how to do this again even better next time.
I’d love to have you join us at one of our next events! One of which is the Night Market on Thursday, June 21st from 7pm – 11pm. http://thefoodtrust.org/night-market
While I’m here, I’ll answer some of the questions I’ve gotten.
- Did I get a new job? Yes and no. Yes, I am still working for GSK. I am also working for The Food Trust as part of GSK’s PULSE Volunteer Program for the next six months, until December. The PULSE Volunteer Partnership provides a skills-based volunteering opportunity where eligible employees are matched with a non-profit organization for three or six months full-time. I am so thrilled to be a part of this truly unique program. For more details, https://www.gsk.com/en-gb/responsibility/our-people/employee-volunteering/
- What is The Food Trust? The Food Trust, based here in Philadelphia, works to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious food and information by improving food environments and teaching nutrition education in schools. The Food Trust works with corner store owners to increase healthy offerings, manages farmers markets in communities that lack access to affordable produce, and encourages grocery store development in under served areas (www.thefoodtrust.org). In addition to bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to local communities, they also helped ensure farmers market vendors can accept SNAP/food stamps. And, shoppers using SNAP/food stamps can earn $2 in Philly Food Bucks for every $5 spent on fresh fruits and veggies.
- What is Get HYPE Philly? Get HYPE Philly! is a youth led partnership of 10 nonprofit organizations, with The Food Trust as the anchor, working together to bring healthy change to schools and communities through physical fitness, nutrition education, entrepreneurship, and civic involvement. http://www.gethypephilly.org/
- What am I doing? My six month assignment at the Food Trust will be working with the HYPE partners to help figure out ways to generate income so they can be less dependent on grants. For example, how feasible would it be for some of our partners rent out their space for service projects or team building? Would a plant sale or other type of event be worthwhile? So, stay tuned because I will likely be reaching out to you for your ideas and feedback on any ideas I come up with.