Growing up in the Caribbean, Sam and her brother could always count on healthy meals at home and school lunches prepared with whole foods and fresh ingredients. However, after moving to New York City, rather than grocery stores and farmers’ markets, they found their neighborhood full of bodegas and fast-food restaurants. Sam saw her family and community struggling with diabetes, hypertension, and obesity and she wanted to be a part of a solution.
The Campaign Against Hunger has empowered Sam to serve as a mentor, community liaison, and a leader of the good food movement in her neighborhood. Through the Green Teens Workforce Training Program, Sam and other local teenagers manage the weekly production and distribution of nearly 300 pounds of fruits and vegetables in the Far Rockaway neighborhood in New York City.
“Here in Rockaway, you don’t have access to the things that you need,” Sam told WhyHunger. “When you have a farm, you’re producing your own food, you’re watching out for your own health…because you know what you are eating and you know how it grew.”
Sam and the Green Teens are also responsible for harvesting the produce for The Campaign’s “VeggieRX” program. Through a partnership with a nearby health center, local patients living with diet-related illnesses receive vouchers–each good for one week’s worth of fresh produce to be redeemed at one of The Campaign’s two Farmers’ Markets. This program has shown promising results in helping patients combat preventable diet-related illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, and obesity, while increasing the frequency of healthcare check-ins for high-risk patients.
As we search for ways to shift our current industrial food system, it has become increasingly apparent that involving youth like Sam is critical. Organizations like The Campaign Against Hunger are planting the seeds of determination in our youth to not only solve the problems of their community, but mend the food system that has been handed to them.
For more on the great work The Campaign Against Hunger has been doing, visit www.tcahnyc.org
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