FOOD DESERT: AN AREA WITH LIMITED OR NON-EXISTENT ACCESS TO HEALTHY, NUTRITIOUS FOOD. THEY MOST COMMONLY AFFECT PEOPLE FROM LOWER SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND PEOPLE OF COLOR WHO DON’T HAVE ACCESS TO CULTURALLY RELEVANT FOOD.
We often think of deserts in terms of desolation. But just as deserts have a living, thriving ecosystem, we know there is power, history, and vibrancy in the people and communities that constitute food deserts. The FOOD ACCESS CLUSTER envisions resilient, localized food systems where communities have access to healthy, culturally relevant food.
Urban Harvest STL has partnered with St Louis MetroMarket and The Fit and Food Connection to form a cluster-based approach to creating an inclusive and resilient food system. Our innovative FOOD ACCESS CLUSTER synergizes toward a shared solution and creates a closed-loop local food system that diverts from traditional means of production and distribution. We are developing a network of organizations with defined roles to address food insecurity in St Louis because it’s an impossible task for any one organization. Through collaboration, shared resources, and a comprehensive ecosystem of support, we accelerate our impact in the community, generating an equitable food system through food access, advocacy, and education.
Urban Harvest STL grows organic food across different platforms in the city including the FOOD ROOF Farm, Kerr FOOD ROOF, Flance Schoolyard Garden, and Fresh Starts Community Garden. The food is harvested and delivered to our FOOD ACCESS CLUSTER partners the same day ensuring that nutrient density is optimal.
St Louis MetroMarket distributes the food through their farmers market on wheels which drives into neighborhoods mere blocks from the FOOD ROOF Farm. Weekly routes ensure that people have continual access to healthy food. The Fit and Food Connection provides emergency food assistance for those unable to make it out to the bus. In addition, fresh meals are provided to people participating in their free fitness and nutrition programs.
Urban Harvest STL educates a team of interns and volunteers on the FOOD ROOF Farm, and hosts dozens of community events to raise awareness and enable people to not only learn how to grow food but to contribute to our impact. MetroMarket hosts cooking demonstrations showcasing fresh food on the bus. Throughout the week, the Fit and Food Connection facilitates free nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and fitness classes in these neighborhoods empowering people to lead healthier lives.