On October 24, New Orleans celebrated the fifth annual Food Day, a national campaign to celebrate food and also inspire changes in diets and food policy. Across the country, thousands of events took place for the national day of advocacy around food. Locally, our efforts included an active community engagement component.
NetWork Voluntours, a volunteer management organization, in conjunction with the National Fresh Food Day, Tulane Prevention Research Center, the French Market, and SPROUT NOLA organized the inaugural New Orleans Fresh Food Volunteer Day on October 24 from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Sixty volunteers were mobilized to our participating gardens: 7th Ward Boys and Girls Garden, Capstone Community Gardens & Orchard, CRISP Farms, Crown Community Garden NOLA, Federal City Community Garden, SPROUT NOLA, and Sankofa. A variety of projects were completed during the morning including harvesting, mulching, and cleaning up areas to create more community green spaces. Maaike Baker, a Food Day Intern at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which supports the national Food Day campaign, commented on the efforts in New Orleans.
“New Orleans’ efforts have struck me the most in the way that they advocate for community service. Looking through the picture of events, there are community members getting down and dirty, transforming urban spaces into green spaces for community gardens,” Baker said. “That physical labor makes New Orleans’ efforts all the more tangible and rewarding for community members.”
Following the morning of service, volunteers were welcomed at the opening of the new Sankofa Fresh Stop Market. Building on seven years of community investment, the Sankofa Community Development Center built a healthy food hub in the Lower Ninth Ward at the corner of Forstall and St. Claude Avenue. The market sells fruits and vegetables grown in Sankofa’s gardens, as well as healthy food options purchased from local farmers and food distributors. The project was awarded first place by the “Lots of Progress Competition” by Propeller innovation center, and the program is a partner of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. The Fresh Stop Market augments Sankofa’s existing Mobile Market program.
“We are providing a direct resource for deserving communities to receive fresh foods from local gardens, farms, and wholesale food distributors on a consistent basis throughout the week at various locations,” commented Sankofa Executive Director Rashida Ferdinand.
Other Food Day events around New Orleans included a Farmers Market at the Tulane University Uptown Campus with satsuma recipes and a registered dietitian to answer questions. For more information about Food Day in New Orleans, visit www.nolafoodday.wordpress.com or follow on Facebook and Twitter at @NOLAFoodDay.
By Kevin Crooks, New Orleans Food Day Intern and Graduate Assistant at Tulane PRC