There’s probably a few of us that don’t even know what a food desert is, although if you think about it just a bit it will come to you. If you live somewhere in the industrialized world and you have a hard time obtaining healthy, affordable food, you live in a food desert. The ironic thing about food deserts is that the problem isn’t often about there being no food …so you aren’t necessarily going to starve…but the food that your body really needs, the nutrition that is essential for the bodies of your kids and elderly parents…that food is hard to come by. There are food deserts in both rural and urban areas and they are most prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities.
Food deserts are defined by terms like “supermarket shortage” (people in these areas have a hard time getting to retail grocery stores) and are linked to a great variety of diet-related health problems.
But you can dig into all of the bad news somewhere else (there’s plenty of good info out there) because these particular paragraphs are about hope.
Direct-transfer food rescue has the potential to turn a food desert into an oasis. I’m saying potential because most of this work is still to be done; but this transformation has already begun.
Every Friday morning Chris (a Community Plates food runner for almost a year now) rescues over a thousand pounds of fresh produce from an area wholesaler and delivers it to the East End Community Council in Bridgeport, CT. Willene and Ted are community organizers there who make sure the food gets placed on tables and distributed to the hundreds of food insecure people who show up there every week. Two weeks ago I got a phone call from a community leader in Bridgeport who said “do you realize what a big difference this is making?”
And they’re right. In this case the difference is about replacement. Another bag of corn chips is replaced with some fresh broccoli. Candy bars are replaced with Kale and fried taquitos off of a convenience store roller warmer are replaced with all the ingredients for a delicious salad.
And Chris is just one of many who have decided to be a part of this food rescue revolution. We now have opportunities in three different states to make this kind of difference. If you’re a Community Plates food runner don’t underestimate the difference you’re making in by being a part of this transformation; one food rescue at a time.
And if you haven’t joined the charge, it’s simple. Performing one food rescue a week (or at least one a month) won’t change your life (you’ll still have time to do the other stuff you need to do) but it will change a life. We need your help!