Thursday, September 27, 2012

3 Simple Solutions to Healthy Food Access in Anacostia

The River East Emerging Leaders are back to host The "Politics of Food", an important discussion on creating healthy food options east of the Anacostia River on October 9, 2012.

The organizers ask, "How do we increase access to healthy food"? I have 3 simple answers.

1. Reinvent the Corner Store 
Stop tearing down and start building up. Let's look to our existing stores for changes. But, only if the owners commit to providing healthier items.
Small, convenient and fresh!
For example, lets look at a small corner store near Rhode Island Avenue NE that once sold mostly 40 ounce liquor bottles and potato chips. They have since changed their merchandise. Now the store sells fresh fruits, vegetables and local produce. Why? Residents met with the owner and promised to increase patronage if he stocked a list of items that they frequently purchase. The corner store owner saw this as a business opportunity and shifted the products to meet the demands of the community.

Also check out Atlanta's Boxcar Grocer as a business committed to food in urban food deserts.

2.  Culinary and Restaurant Training Programs
Everyone's calling for youth employment. Yet few are calling for education and business skills. Instead of waiting for a food chain to plop down on the town, why not grow our future chefs and business owners right at home? Connect Training Development centers with DC's Top Chefs. Teach youth the skills to generate opportunities through culinary certifications, restaurant business intensives and hospitality management.

Is there an undiscovered Carla Hall hiding in Anacostia?
In the words of a famous vegetarian, let's "be the change we want to see". (Mahatma Gandhi)

3. Make Healthy Eating Fun
Why is health in Anacostia still so boring? I can't take another dry, predictable and ineffective health fair! Let's throw a healthy chili cook-off at Anacostia Park, a soul vegetarian bike picnic, or run a Taste of Anacostia competition. There are many ways to make healthy eating fun. We can create new customers, educate and entertain our community with incentive-based programs. Instead of constantly preaching to our community, let's get people involved. It's time for Anacostia to create health on new terms!

Come share your ideas at The Politics of Food
October 9, 2012
DC Department of Housing and Community Development
1800 MLK JR. Avenue

1 comment:

Candace Montague said...

Amen to all of this. Whenever people think of healthy they start to moan and groan. Kale can be amazing when prepared properly.