What better way to end the day than by uncovering local food powerhouses in the Nation’s Capital! On Wednesday, April 21, 2010, the USDA and HHS Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships convened to visit two jewels located in Washington, DC: Common Good City Farm of Ledroit Park and Healthy Solutions of Anacostia.
Common Good City Farm is an urban farm and education center growing food for low-income residents in the city and providing educational opportunities for all people to increase food security, and improve human health and environmental sustainability. Common Good City Farm was funded in part by a National Institute for Food and Agriculture Community Food Project Grant.
The University of the District of Columbia’s 4-H Club has just partnered with the farm to help their kids learn to grow and eat healthy food. Supported by USDA, the goal of the 4-H program is to assist young people in developing knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable them to become self-directing, responsible, productive citizens. Common Good City Farm has been successful in part due to strong partnerships with organizations like the 4-H Club, as well as community support from organizations like the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and Mount Bethel Baptist Church.
Next, we journeyed across the river to visit a Healthy Solutions youth cooking class. Started by Tannika Cunningham, Healthy Solutions’ mission is to promote healthy lifestyles in underserved communities. The students cooked up and ate four delicious dishes that included a fruit salad, a mesclun spring salad, an eggplant pasta sauce, and a tri-colored pasta dish.
Healthy Solutions works in Alabama, North Carolina, and Washington, DC to create community-based food systems that allow access to healthy affordable foods. The organization also focuses on agricultural job creation and training, healthy living education, and youth development. Healthy Solutions operates a produce coop in DC and sells food to local corner shops in the neighborhood.
There are only three major chain grocery stores east of the Anacostia River, so the impact of Healthy Solutions, which brings 10,000 pounds of fresh produce into these communities each month, is critical. The Obama Administration’s proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative would send more resources to help bring access to affordable, fresh, and healthy food to communities like Anacostia.
Tasha Askew is a National Hunger Fellow
Julie Curti serves as Acting Deputy Director at the USDA Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.