Nourish, Community Food Buying Club
Urban Seeds is the lead organization for the new Community Food Buying Club (CFBC). Thanks to a generous grant from Welborn Baptist Foundation, we are able to collaborate with several community partners to initiate this project with the goal of diminishing nutrient-insecurity in the Evansville area. The CFBC has two key strategies:
- To provide nutrient dense staple foods via an online shopping platform at prices that will be, on average, 40% lower than big-box shopping, and
- To facilitate an educational series that will empower families to cook nourishing and culturally familiar meals at home.
There is a delicate balance between the importance of filling empty bellies and that of embracing our moral obligation to fill those empty bellies with foods that nourish–as opposed to deplete–our health and well-being. Families living with nutrient-insecurity are often relegated to the lowest nutritional value foods due to the low cost of those foods. Unfortunately, those foods happen to be highly processed with additives and chemicals, some of which are linked to diminished learning capacity and behavior challenges in children, as well as being associated with chronic disease states later in life, such as obesity and diabetes.
The goal of the Nourish is to increase access to more of the high nutritional value foods, more whole in their nature and lower in processing, to truly nourish the children in our community so that they may grow into our next generation’s leaders.
Meal Planning and Shopping & Cooking on a Budget education and demonstrations are at the foundation of our community outreach. Dispelling the myth that “healthy” meals are too expensive and time consuming to prepare, we share practical tips for planning culturally familiar meals that are cost-effective, easy to prepare, and most importantly, delicious! We are available to teach to large and small community audiences or to provide pleasing and nourishing food samples at community events.
Evansville Area Food Council
The Food Council meets quarterly to discuss and explore opportunities for programming and initiatives that touch on all things Food Justice — Food and Health, Food and Access, Food and Waste, and Food and Education. Urban Seeds convened the EAFC in 2018 in response to the observation that while many effective initiatives and programs were being facilitated in the EVV area, there was also duplication and an underutilization of resources. There are many partners at the EAFC table from nonprofits, to corporations and professional entities, to faith-based groups, to educators, to farmers and food producers, to consumers. The EAFC was an integral piece of the creation of the Market on Main farmers market with many shared ideas from the Council participants coming to fruition as the market started, as just one example of engagement.
SNAP at the Farmers Market
Urban Seeds is the Vanderburgh County fiscal agent for administering SNAP benefits with the Food and Nutrition Services of the USDA at both the Franklin Street Bazaar and Market on Main farmers markets. Our mission to increase access to nourishing foods for everyone in our community is well-served by this initiative which allows for our community members receiving SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) to use their benefits at local farmers markets. Not only are shoppers then provided access to fresh produce — a staple of a nourishing eating plan yet not available in all neighborhoods — but our local farmers are supported as well with increase purchases from more community members. Due to generous donations from St. Vincent’s and Deaconess, we are able to provide Double Bucks — up to $10 in additional produce vouchers are available in addition to SNAP dollars used which increase purchasing power of the consumer at the farmers markets.
Our educational outreach is not just focused on the “how to’s” of cooking more fresh meals at home; we also consider it vital that the entire community be informed as to the disparities in access to nourishing foods. Many in our community are unaware of the depth of poverty among our neighbors, with the resulting consequences of poverty in all aspect of family life, in particular the reality of nutrient-insecurity. When children are under-nourished they are less likely to reach their potential in regards to their learning capacity, and achieving a level of vibrant health and well-being.
Our commitment to Nourishing Our Community is a perfect compliment to our awareness of the fragility of our planet and the impact of food waste on our environment — perhaps more important however is the injustice of food going to the landfill when there is so much hunger in the Evansville area. Nearly 40% of food grown and purchased ends up in the landfill. One way to mitigate food waste is to partner with farmers when they have an abundance of produce that exceeds their immediate capacity to sell or share that produce. A volunteer gleaning project is one that responds to a farmers call for volunteers to fill the need to harvest this excess produce as it ripens, which is then donated to local organizations and agencies who routinely prepare large scale meals for those in our community who are living with hunger. Urban Seeds coordinates the volunteers and the agencies who can receive the just-picked produce to incorporate into meals, with the farmers who have an unexpected higher yield from their land.
Carver Community Center
Tri State Food Bank
Habitat for Humanity
JD Levy & Associates
Trinity United Methodist Church
Local Food Local Places
Local Growers of Southern Indiana