“If its ORANGE below, click on it! its a link”
Today, I joined my daughter and her friends for a community project. They are part of a service group at Virginia Tech called “SERVE” They had driven down from the mountains to do a weekend of service around Richmond. Before they headed back this afternoon, I decided to join them for their last project. The goal was to weed and clear out two garden beds at a local school. For this project, they were joined by a representative from Shalom Farms in Goochland, Va. Based on reviewing their website, Shalom Farm’s mission is to grow produce for underserved communities and to provide experiential learning to help children and adults gain the know-how to grow organic food. Shalom partners with this school to train their students on organic gardening and nutrition science.
The school where we met today is a local non-profit middle school located in inner-city Richmond, VA. This private school focuses on providing a better education to children in this challenged neighborhood. The school sits on the same block as the largest public housing facility in Richmond. This neighborhood is comprised of people who struggle for time, resources and safety for their families. Forget that many of the adults in this community work multiple jobs to support their families, the crime index for this area is 107% higher than that of Virginia as a whole; Violent crime is 263% higher. If you live within this housing community, you have a 1 in 15 chance of being impacted by crime. A family of five has the odds working against them.
The reality of these statistics, lead to compounding problems. This neighborhood is a “food desert”. There are no grocery stores within miles and many rely solely on walking or buses for transportation. The result is that most do their shopping from convenience stores and children are often deprived of basic nutritional staples.
The NoKidHungry website states that “1 in 5 kids in America struggle with hunger” [the new term is “food security”]. This is not only a global crisis, but deeply effects every American city. Nutrition makes a difference in our societal success in foundational ways. The website goes on to state the fact: “On average, students who eat school breakfast earn 17.5% higher math scores, attend more days of school, and are 20% more likely to graduate.
So our role today was small, we spent a couple hours helping clear the garden beds for next years planting. An extremely small price to pay to help, and to appreciate the daily challenge of living “food insecure“.
As most of you know, I work at EMC and you may have read my work with#EMCGIVESBACK last spring as we worked to fund a water well for charity:water. As we go into the fall the theme will be coincidentally “food security”. I look forward to working with EMC’s programs to drive impact in this area.
I can feed my kids, one of them is a #HOKIE and today I worked with her to help others “get the goods” they need to go to college themselves. Think about that the next time you bite down on a carrot, or get mad at yourself for eating an extra slice of provolone.