Bringing Healthy Food To A Food Desert
Phoenix non-profit growing a healthy community one garden at a time
Some children have never seen a carrot. How can this be? Carrots are everywhere!
Unfortunately, carrots are not everywhere. You’re more likely to find fast food and bags of chips than carrots in a food desert.
Food deserts, found all around the country, are areas where there’s no or limited access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food, like carrots. These areas are often low-income neighborhoods where people can’t afford cars.
For many Americans, a trip to the grocery story is a breeze. You just hop in your car and you’re on your way. Imagine being a senior citizen or a single mom with two toddlers without a car on a fixed income. And the closest grocery store is two miles away.
What is a simple chore for some is instead a grueling walk carrying multiple, heavy bags.
“A lot of low-income families and seniors in the neighborhood can’t afford cars, so they walk to the corner convenience store or fast food place to get high fat, sodium and sugar filled processed food. This is often their only choice,” says Darren Chapman, president of TigerMountain.
TigerMountain, a foundation in South Phoenix, not only grows fruits and vegetables in local gardens, but educates the community about healthy food. The foundation provides options for families to get involved in feeding themselves and taking care of their health.
“We are here to help people grow their own healthy food, leave the unhealthy choices behind and live their best life,” says Chapman.
Not only is fresh food hard to come by in food deserts, it’s often more costly than in food-rich neighborhoods. The price almost doubles for the same food items.
But the problems don’t stop at the pocketbook. Diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure are some of the many health problems low-income families in food deserts face.
TigerMountain is not only trying to make local residents healthier but also bring the community together. Neighbors work together to grow and distribute the fresh food. Young and old are getting involved in the process and the rewards are beneficial for everyone.
“My children introduced me to TigerMountain. They worked in the gardens before I did,” says Jerome Taylor. “Our community is a diverse mix of people and the garden is a meeting place where we all come together and get along. There is peace in our gardens. It’s stress free.”
“I like working at the gardens because I like meeting people,” says DaRon Stafford. “A lot of people come for a visit to one of our gardens and end up participating in the program.”
With funding help from State Farm, the TigerMountain team and local communities are changing the quality of life for low-income families in the Phoenix area. Together, they are building more than a sense of community, they are introducing children to carrots and other vegetables and fruits. And those foods taste especially good when they grow them themselves!