Local Organization Gears up to Provide Healthy Food to South Side

This Saturday, April 14, high school students from the Say Yes Collegiate Preparatory Academy are scheduled to visit a developing snack garden housed on the property of the Rahma Free Health Clinic located at 3100 S. Salina St. The students will give out information they have gathered about food deserts while they also assist with mulching, trail building, sign making and planting.

This garden project was started last year in part by the Alchemical Nursery when volunteers laid out cardboard and mulch to establish spots for future planting beds. The project aims to put an end to the South Side as a food deserts — an area without access to a grocery store or farmers market within a one-mile radius.

Lydia Mumford

Saturday’s presentation will give the students a chance to highlight the information they have learned over the past few weeks through the course The Urban “Food Desert” & Our (Re-) Connection to the Natural World. According to Lydia Mumford, instructor and lead author of the course, about a dozen students were introduced to the project about a month ago where they were instructed to conduct individual research about food deserts. Mumford said she hopes the information will not only have a profound effect on the students but the community as well.

“I hope that students will gain a better understanding of the issues surrounding food sourcing and access,” Mumford said. “As they complete their research project and respond in unique and personal ways, I hope that they will share this knowledge with their peers and community.”

The SYCPA has hired the MLAB, a literacy arts bus, in order to help them spread the message about food deserts April 14. The SYCPA will conduct their information sessions of the day inside the bus, which on the inside looks like a classroom. John Cardona, coordinator of the MLAB, said the lack of access to healthy foods is an issue that needs to be addressed.

“A food desert is a very real thing that no one talks about,” Cardona said. “If anything is going to change, we are going to have to educate people.”

Mumford said during Saturday’s event, people can stop in to ask questions and get pamphlets on food deserts. Mumford said she plans to continue the food desert program if students express further interest.

For more information, contact Lydia Mumford at lydiamumford@ymail.com.