Travis McKenzie and Rodrigo Rodríguez

Spring is here, and that means it’s planting time. But this year we’re not just growing healthy organic food; we’re “Growing Health and Justice!” We are excited to announce a partnership of Project Feed the Hood, Farm to Table New Mexico and Presbyterian Health Service’s Healthy Here initiative. Since its founding in 2009, Project Feed the Hood, an initiative of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), has helped install dozens of school community gardens and has worked alongside hundreds of families, teachers and school staffers to transform our community’s role in New Mexico’s food systems, especially school foods. Project Feed the Hood works to educate, organize and empower communities to transform our food systems to reflect the visions and values of our communities.

New Mexico has rich and ancient agricultural traditions, but in recent years those traditions have taken a back seat to Big Ag. New Mexico is currently home to one of the nation’s largest dairy industries but also tops the nation in childhood hunger, with nearly one in three kids going hungry. Agricultural industries in the state make billions of dollars each year, but one in five New Mexicans is not getting enough to eat. New Mexico is also home to some of the largest cattle herds in the United States and also has some of the largest “food deserts.” Food deserts are often low-income census tracts where a substantial number of residents have little access to a large grocery store.

Project Feed the Hood is also working to revitalize traditional growing methods and lifeways and to reintroduce culturally significant foods by engaging with diverse communities and stakeholders. The project is addressing the root causes of hunger in New Mexico by connecting farms and schools, engaging young people in changing the food system, and educating and advocating for policies at local, state and federal levels.

We hope to expand our efforts at Albuquerque Public Schools and form a partnership with a handful of pilot schools—elementary, middle and high schools—across the district. There is a specific focus on the Southeast Heights and South Valley areas. We will be working throughout the year to host gardening workshops and cooking and seed-saving classes. Project Feed the Hood will be hosting school assemblies, working in classrooms and after school to build gardens, grow, cook and eat food to help transform students and build school food systems rooted in principles of justice, culture and health. Please join us. Learn more at http://www.bchealthcouncil.org

 

Travis McKenzie is with Project Feed the Hood (growthefuture@yahoo.com). Rodrigo Rodríguez is with the SouthWest Organizing Project (Rodrigo@swop.net).

 

SIDEBAR:

Healthy Here is a collective impact initiative in Albuquerque/Bernalillo County committed to reducing chronic disease in the Hispanic/Latino and Native American populations in the International District and South Valley through environmental and systems changes that increase access to healthy food, physical activity and self-management of chronic disease. Funded through the CDC’s Racial & Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) grant to Presbyterian Healthcare Services with coalition support from the Bernalillo County Community Health Council. For more information, contact Leigh Caswell at lcaswell@phs.org or Marsha McMurray-Avila at mcavila.bcchc@comcast.net

Farm to Table, a partner in the Healthy Here initiative, is working to co-create spaces for farm-to-school practitioners to learn from one another through gatherings, workshops and other trainings. FtT’s goals include supporting community partners within Albuquerque to develop and sustain diverse school-garden projects, increase knowledge and skills to support farm-to-school education, increase integration of local foods within Albuquerque schools and advocate for public and institutional support of projects. For more information, contact Nelsy Domínguez at nelsy@farmtotablenm.org