Thanks to Rachael Don for this guest post! Rachael is a Registered Dietitian in training and co-editor of the Jess Schwartz Jewish Community Day School’s Hazon CSA newsletter in Scottsdale, AZ. A former healthcare administrator, she holds an MBA and a Masters in Health Services Administration. When she’s not cooking organic vegetables, Rachael is caring for her three young sons and husband, David in Phoenix, AZ. She shares these thoughts with the readers of that newsletter and all of you!
They won’t buy healthy food. They don’t have time to cook healthy food. And they don’t want healthy food. Karyn Moskowitz wouldn’t accept those answers from critics who tried to justify the lack of affordable, healthy food in low-income areas of Kentucky. Karyn tried to do something about it. And she has proved the critics wrong. Here’s her story.
I am sharing some ideas of the New Jewish Food Movement, learned from my attendance at the 2009 Hazon Food Conference. There I studied a bit about “Food Deserts.” The term refers to the disparate availability of healthy food between low and middle/upper income neighborhoods. Access to healthy food is taken for granted by many of us in our sea of food options. However, in low income areas there are drastically limited food choices, leading to higher rates of food-related disease among the poor.
Karyn Moskowitz has tackled the problem of a Food Desert in her own community of Louisville, Kentucky. Inspired by her own attendance at an earlier Hazon Food Conference, and her previous organizing experience, Karyn founded New Roots, a nonprofit organization that developed a plan of action and has successfully attacked the assumptions behind the critics’ justifications of the Food Desert.
New Roots program, called the Fresh Stop Project, operates similarly to a CSA and connects farmers with low income communities. Because there is a direct relationship between the farm and the market, the distribution costs are avoided, making it both profitable for the farmer and affordable to the consumer. Karyn and her small organization of volunteers travel each week during the Kentucky growing season (June-October) to Amish farms and produce auctions located between 50 and 100 miles from Louisville. They load a truck with produce and deliver it to various churches where the food is distributed. Members pay on a weekly basis, and are charged on a sliding scale. A share costs $24 per week for a full share and $12 per week for a half share, but may be discounted based on need. What Karyn and others have found is that the operation can still be profitable for the farmer as long as 80% of the members pay the full cost.
New Roots makes no attempt to create their own member communities. Rather, they tap into established resources, such as church ministries, and create partnerships with the church members. Through this simple model, New Roots has brought fresh, healthy produce to places where it would otherwise be unavailable.
Karyn is but one example of how a single person can make a difference, and presents ideas we can ponder to combat the Food Desert problem that exists just miles away from our own community.
Feel free to contact Karyn at Kmoskowitz@sbcglobal.net or (502) 475-8979. New Roots is accepting interns for the 2010 produce season, and would love to be invited to any community to speak about the Fresh Stop Project. Donations and other correspondence can be sent to New Roots, Inc. P.O. Box 4421, Louisville, KY 40204-4421.