Awarded a $1000 grant at our June 23, 2013 Stake
SNAP Boxes 2013
1. Describe the project a STAKE Grant would help you accomplish.
A Philly STAKE Grant would allow Greensgrow to incorporate education back into this year’s SNAP Box program by compensating educators from Women Infants and Children (WIC) to provide nutrition education classes and food preparation demonstrations weekly for 60 families for 12 weeks at Greensgrow Farms and at the West Philadelphia Fresh Food Hub.
Greensgrow Farms is introducing SNAP Boxes for 2013, a part of our Local Initiative for Food Education (LIFE) program that is now in its fourth year running. LIFE combines food access and nutrition education to reverse food insecurity for families that receive SNAP benefits. Every week, participants pay for an affordable farm share using SNAP, and attend a free nutrition education class and food preparation demonstration. Families have reported improved health, that they incorporate fresh produce into 50% more meals, and the confidence to try new recipes as a result of the program, among other numerous positive benefits.
Funding LIFE this year has been difficult, though we are able to offer the shares at half the cost of last year: $6.50 per week, thanks to the Wholesome Wave Foundation. That’s $6.50 for a variety of 5-8 vegetables and fruits! We weren’t, however, able to secure funding for the education portion of the program, and have changed the name to SNAP Boxes for 2013. Being in command of nutritional information and possessing know-how in preparing easy, inexpensive nutritious meals adds a dynamic level of empowerment that food access alone cannot deliver. Access isn’t enough—nutrition education and demonstrations are critical to ensuring greater familiarity with new produce and to help encourage families to prepare their shares nutritiously.
2. How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $800 is your imaginary budget?
Philly STAKE would allow Greensgrow to compensate educators from Women Infants and Children (WIC) who would provide the missing piece to our SNAP Box program: education. Together, WIC and Greensgrow can offer a comprehensive solution to Philadelphia’s food insecurity for local low-income families. $800 would pay for WIC staff members at our two Philadelphia locations to educate participants at $15 per hour for two hours for 12 weeks.
3. A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal)
I ran the LIFE Program last year at Greensgrow Farms, which had great success in improving food security and health of its participants. LIFE is at the forefront of a new type of paradigm: food access programs serving as a public health intervention. Though we don’t have a full time evaluation staff like other organizations, we managed to measure indicators last year that show that programs like LIFE do have the potential to make real health impacts, building healthier communities farm share by farm share. In order to keep building this evidence, however, we need both access and education portions of the program.
I am a Philadelphia native with a B.A. in Anthropology and Political Science from Columbia University, so I guess you could call me a politico-socio-cultural ethnographer of sorts. I will soon be pursuing a dual M.S./M.A. program in Food Policy and Urban and Environmental Planning at Tufts in Boston. Essentially: food is my main driver in all things work-related, academic, and personal. My paramount interest is finding solutions to urban food systems issues. As a formerly very unhealthy eater, I personally understand the transformative effects good food can have on every aspect of our lives.
4. Why is this project important? How will it benefit the community?
This is the Local Initiative for Food Education (LIFE) program’s fourth year running, and funding is harder to come by than ever for small organizations like Greensgrow that don’t have specialized program evaluation teams. That’s why we had to introduce SNAP Boxes this year, it’s a division of the previously more comprehensive LIFE Program, without education. Now we have the chance to make our program whole through a Philly STAKE Grant.
Our program has proven important to participants and their families who have become pillars of health in their community. We conducted a Health Behavior Change Study for the 2012 LIFE Program, and it shows that our curriculum contributed to changing their long-term eating habits even months after the program ended. Families reported their health improving during the program, that their vegetable and fruit intake increased from 5 meals a week to 8, and that they felt more confident preparing new recipes when they learned by watching the LIFE educator. Members even reported an increase in household purchasing power, a significant economic side-effect we hadn’t anticipated.
SNAP Boxes, in combination with nutrition education and a food preparation demonstration produce powerful effects on participants, not only increasing their family’s food security and health equity, but also influencing their long-term health habits, building healthier communities one family at a time. We will be able to duplicate and improve upon these results from last year with another added location in West Philadelphia, and through double the amount of participants.