Food Justice

Food Justice

If “you are what you eat” then what message are we sending to people who cannot access fresh food or must travel a long distance, with limited access to transportation, to get to a grocery store?   Do the shelves of convenience stores and gas stations carry the items people need to live healthy lives?

The USDA’s Economic Research Service uses data from a variety of sources to identify areas of food scarcity.  Perhaps you’ve heard the terms “food desert” or “food swamp”?  This captures the reality of neighborhoods that are not in reasonable proximity to groceries.

The highlighted areas indicate Geneva neighborhoods with limited access, either pedestrian or vehicle, to a grocery store.

The Food Justice coalition examined this issue several years ago and has been ahead of the curve in working on a response.  Deacon Henry Farro and Ms. Teresa Shaffer lead up an effort to glean produce from area farms and distribute it to food pantries, community lunch programs and other distribution points where it will get into the hands of those who need it.

Food Justice is also providing education in canning and other preservation techniques to extend the shelf life of what is gleaned and allow access to fruits and vegetables beyond the growing season.  In 2017, the group gleaned over 18,000 pounds of produce, providing over $44,000 of healthy food to  the community free of charge.  A special focus on the Foundry remediation area has served the needs of affected residents, providing produce that is shown to reduce the load of lead and arsenic (the primary Foundry contaminants) in a person’s system.  Home deliveries and drop offs at the Little Free Farmstand are frequent during the growing season.  Posts on Instagram alert people to what is currently available for pick up.

Located at Geneva Peeps on State Street

The work is important, ongoing and expanding.  In 2017, funds raised for the program went to the construction of refrigerated trailer to allow more produce to be gleaned from local fields and kept fresh for distribution.  To read more about Food Justice and our 2018 program goals, check out the news page.