Happy New Year!
While there is no doubt that 2020 was a year of challenge, heartache, uncertainty, loss, and disruption, there were also silver linings to acknowledge, as there were so many beautiful displays of kindness and collaboration.
In a Fall 2020 newsletter, we explored the nuances of the Three Rs: Relief, Rehabilitation, and Restoration. (https://urbanseeds.org/the-three-rs-relief-rehabilitation-restoration). There has long been impactful Relief work occurring in the Evansville area by several nonprofit organization and faith-based groups; the pandemic invited us all, as a community, to see the troubling reality of food insecurity, made more evident by supply chain challenges and new joblessness. There have always been hungry families in our area, yet due to the sudden increase in families in financial distress, it was the pandemic that highlighted this bleak truth of disparity.
Urban Seeds’ Board members, staff, and volunteers have consistently advocated for Food Justice, related to accessing nourishing food. As well, we are committed to creating and engaging in Rehabilitation and Restorative initiatives, such as our Meal Plan, Shop, and Cook on a Budget, and our Nourish Community Food Buying Club.
Our focus for 2021 is to lean heavy into Rehabilitation efforts as we endeavor to find solid footing in Restoration programming, the details of which are:
Meal Planning, Shopping, and Cooking on a Budget
- Many of our neighbors have become disconnected to the task of cooking a meal from scratch, which could be a time management challenge due to a busy schedule, or a lack of modeling from their own family life. And of course, when access to fresh foods is limited due to zip code or financial constraints, this further diminishes the likelihood of familiarity of meal planning and shopping, let alone cooking on a budget.
- Providing resources and support that increase knowledge of how-to meal plan is the first step towards an improved likelihood that fresh foods will be incorporated into family meals. This is not an all or nothing situation – adding one planned, fresh dinner per week is a positive step. It is vital that the dignity and empowerment of each family member is supported as we walk side-by-side in our education journey.
- It is imperative that we at Urban Seeds keep in mind the power of food preferences and the availability of those foods.
- When a weekly meal plan is developed—often a rotation of family favorites over the course of a month—then we can shift the focus to cost-effective shopping, followed by efficient preparation of fresh meal ingredients that can be used throughout the week.
- The Community Food Buying Club is a collaborative program created in response to a lack of full-service grocery stores in large tracts of the Evansville area. Leadership for Nourish is shared by Urban Seeds, Purdue Extension, Healthy Communities Partnership, the Promise Zone, and numerous community partner organizations.
- We purchase bulk foods at wholesale pricing – pricing that we then pass on to our members. We also offer “boxes” which are essentially a meal kit or a theme box, such as a pasta dinner box or a breakfast box. Members shop on our online grocery store with orders being fulfilled every other Thursday. Grocery bags are currently being delivered to the front porch of our members, as the pandemic has interfered with our delivery to partner agencies.
- We have one staff person, a paid coordinator, who works 8 hours per week. We are preparing to scale up the number of Nourish family memberships, and will be hiring another staff member to facilitate this increase in volume.
- A difficulty has been the lack of ability to meet our members in person for the education class piece to Nourish. Increasing access to nourishing whole foods is important, yes, but as important is the teaching piece so that our members are able to integrate those grocery items into their weekly meal planning. The above-mentioned Meal Plan, Shopping, and Cooking on a budget is a signature element of Nourish and one that we eagerly anticipate resuming once we are able to safely gather again.
Fund raising for the expansion of Nourish as well as resuming in-person education classes is a necessity to augment funds we receive from Welborn Baptist Foundation. Please consider a new year donation, here: https://urbanseeds.org/donate
I welcome the opportunity to speak to you with more depth in the coming weeks and months – either one-on-one or to your service group or to your worksite colleagues. Please reach out so that we, together, can share the mission and vision of Urban Seeds and Nourish Our Community.
Robin Mallery, Director