by: Adam Davenport, Grow Education Manager
Grow Education and the New Bedford Farm to School project has had Food Equity in our focus over the last month. Often we check in with ourselves about: why is the work that we do important?… and how will it leave a lasting impact for our community?
Food Inequity refers to communities with limitations in resources and income, that are often not informed about the knowledge and variety of healthy foods in their area, or without access to healthy or culturally relevant foods.
Some New Bedford residents suffer from several levels of food inequities. Studies have shown that 33% of New Bedford’s youth are food insecure, and 23.5% of the population lives under the poverty line.1 Numbers can be hard to grasp, but we also hear stories that in some cases the only full meals some students are getting in a day are their school breakfasts, lunches and in some cases dinners.
This is why our partnership with New Bedford’s Public Elementary schools is so important. In our winter presentations, topics such as Food Equity, Food Justice and Food Security are introduced. Students are challenged to try fresh vegetables, new flavors and share about foods they eat at home – and we are working to have their school meals, be more healthy, fresh and nutritious. We believe that students educational experience extends from their school gardens into the cafeteria, where their eating experience should be both empowering and nourishing.
Also recognizing that food equity and health issues in New Bedford are highly centered in the black and brown populations of the city is important. Our region reflects the racial inequities that have stemmed from both food and economic policies that have dis-invested into these communities. You can learn more about that and some of the amazing work done to counter these issues in this video celebrating black history month!
1 Southcoast Indicators project
In the video below, taken during the 2019-2020 Winter Speaker Series, students at Gomes Elementary School in New Bedford, MA try some healthy snacks at a presentation by Coastal Foodshed.