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  1. Greetings all, Healthy Solutions and some of our partners, including, Washington Parks and People are hosting a Summer Harvest Festival on Saturday July 10, 2010. The event is being held at Washington Parks and People Riverside Center / Marvin Gaye Park in Ward 7, DC (5200 Foote Street NE, Washington DC 20019). Our theme is: Let's Move! Our Future, Our Food, and Our Health. Events and informational booths: •Farmers Market •Our first annual Ultimate Salad Competition (will team youth together to create the Ultimate Salad - with judges and prizes) •Walking trail to health (with food and health tips down the WPP bike trail) •Food Tasting •Cooking demos •"Healthy snacks for healthy futures" demos •How to shop healthy on a budget demos •A dedication to George Washington Carver (as his birthday is the 12th of July) to teach youth about the history of agriculture and food in the African American community •How to start a container garden hands on demonstration booth •Let's Move! toolkits and how to's for community based and faith based organizations •How to access healthy affordable food east of the river demos •Managing our health demos •Health screenings •And much, much more However, we experiencing some setbacks. A partner who was to be a large financial contributor (to make the event run smoothly with staff, manpower, media, print material, website, rewards, health related booths and many other things) will not be able to make that investment at this time. The Summer Harvest Festival will still take place for our community members! So I am asking for anyone with time, and resources of all kind to help! If you know anyone who can help the day of, or the day before, bring supplies, or help in any capacity- even sponsor become a sponsor - that is what we need. Contact us ASAP! We are looking for people to help with booths, and volunteer to keep things running smoothly. We need tents, tables, and chairs. We need healthy food options for samples, water, cups, plates, utensils, napkins. We need professionals: chefs, physical fitness instructors, sound and AV technicians, and health professionals. We need materials for the booths, such as container gardening equipment, soil, organic seeds, and we also need materials printed. For our Ultimate Salad Competition we need things like shirts of various colors to divide the teams, rewards for all the youth, ways to advertise the "winning salad", platters for presentation to the judges, and bowls and utensils to build the salads. We are also looking for farm animals and equipment so that our youth can see things from farms.We need assistance before the event: getting the word out, writing press releases, putting it in the community section of all newspapers, passing out flyers, and getting radio stations out to the even. Even if it's not listed we still need it! Our overall goal is to give our community the hands-on tools they need to help themselves and put themselves on a path to better health, now! So if anyone can help, email me or call me. No assistance is too small - we need it all! If anyone is interested in hosting booths, let us know too! Feel free to forward! Thanks and let's move- for our community! Tanikka
  2. The program we did in North Carolina was called the Healthy Eater, Future Leaders Program (HEFLP). At the time I was doing wholesale produce distribution in schools, government etc. We started supplying 3 counties in North Carolina with produce, and my sister had always wanted to start a nonprofit. One day my sister and I were talking and we decided to create a reward program for children so they would want to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. We thought up a program and decided that we would then start Healthy Solutions to do a program in schools the Healthy Eater, Future Leader Program- thus was how Healthy Solutions was born. The HEFLP had different levels of rewards. In elementary and middle school we had the star earner program that we worked with school cafeteria workers to give each student a little post card and everyday they ate least 3 fresh fruits or vegetables they earned a star on the card. In each school in the middle of the year the class that has earned the most stars we gave them a healthy reward lunch in their classrooms. So we brought them in sandwiches, apples wedges, water, tee shirts (that said I'm a Healthy Leader, I'm a Future Leader) and little certificates. At the end of year the school with the most stars received a healthy fun day. The healthy fun day was at Carowinds (kind of like Kings Dominion but in NC- family Fun Park) we had singers, and the children rode rides and had a time to get out and have a good time. With higher schoolers we did things a little differently. We host essay contest and the high schoolers would have to inform tell us if it was up to them how would they make the world a healthier place with fresh fruits and vegetables. Once essays where submitted we worked with local community colleges and set up a scholarship that would allow the students to attend the college and receive some credit hours, we paid the money directly to the school so that we made sure the students use the monies for educational purposes. We invited a few semi finalists to carowinds and we announced while we were there the winners. So we in total gave 10 scholarships. We also sent children home with little healthy food games so that their entire families could see what they children when learning. The Kindergarteners all were given little work books so they could do colorings of fresh fruits and vegetables and we gave teachers little snacks for the class so children could eat and learn. The program was great, and it was completely funded through the food that the schools purchased so instead of a case of apples costing 18.00 a case we charge 24.00 a case and it paid for the program. I think a program like this could work in some areas of DC, I see it a harder task to do it city wide out the gate. So maybe some pilot schools, the only issue would be it would have to function through someone who supplies the food otherwise it would require some kind of funding to get it done, which at the current capacity that Healthy Solutions has, and knowing how much space. All the schools we worked with in NC doubled the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables they ordered by the end of the year, because the children demanded they eat it, so if something like this could be replicated in DC I can see how it would have a great impact. The HEFL has a lot of what they are looking to do in the Healthy Schools Act of 2009 in regards to food, the produce that we used in North Carolina about 80% was sourced locally. The program is missing the garden piece; it did incorporate some aspects of the physical activity, and nutrition parts. A few things I noticed about the Healthy Schools Act of 2009 is very ambitious, but with the funding constraints that DC already faces, and the issues within the schools, I don't see how it would be affordable at the way the school currently functions. Who is going to purchase the food, and who is going to actually monitor that these farmers (or local sources) are actually producing the products that they say they are. There is a lot of reference to sustainable methods of growing - but what does that actually mean- is it organic, non organic, gmo, non gmo, till or no till farming. Its open ended, what that term means. If the food is processed locally what is the original source of the food, and if it’s processed locally then that opens this program up to a lot of people- who use the name farm in their name and they are nowhere near one. I see that in order for a lot of these changes (when it comes to food- the nutrition and physical actives part should be done- and should have been done LONG before this Bill) would require someone to facilitate it. It in theory sounds like a GREAT Bill, but in actuality it's not that simple. I see a lot of people ( organizations, and already know larger farm producers) profiting greatly off this bill, however I don't see how it would help some of the smaller farmers in our region- which is why the farm to school program was originally crafted. I like the idea within the bill of School Gardens, but let’s first look at maybe working to keep some of school yards clean and safe as first steps before we just start to growing food everywhere. I also wonder what are the steps that are going to be taken if a school yard is found that the soil is not safe to grow on. Which will happen in certain parts of the city that already know to have lead in the soil. It would be nice if Healthy Solutions could expand our works because of this Bill, however honestly looking at the names that have endorsed it; I doubt that we will be looked at to do so. I don't want to sound like all hope is lost- I know what experience I have and what Healthy Solutions has done, I know of all the nonprofit organizations in DC, we by far the only ones who can say that we purchased food directly from local farms year round and it was marketable and moved over 100,000lb of fresh fruits and vegetables a day 5 days a week. Already have a history of working to implement a Healthy Foods in school program in several school districts .However I'm being realistic to the way things unfortunately function in DC. It's about who's bigger, and whose known more with council members and their staff oh and Chartwells (which has not returned our calls either). There a few other issues I did see with the Bill, I think maybe a little more research might need to be done. I read the memo that went out, and the bill. The memo stated that there was a need to farm to school because there was no way to track the origin of food from large distributors who sold to the schools. Since they cannot track where the food comes from thus food needs to be local. OK - yes I agree that food should be local- however there is a national law for points of origin already in existence and has been for quite some time. So if DC schools are not getting this information from its supplier then something is wrong! Also DCPS is including charter schools for the subsidized meals program, but are they even participate in this program? To my knowledge a lot of them don't even prepare their own meals they use a caterers- which I don't see how and what the responsibility of these caterers and food service management folks (like chartwells)to insure that even if the food is brought in to the schools that they will actually prepare them in ALL schools. My final though to bring this back to Ward 7 and Ward 8 for a minute- is there going to be a structure that says that certain schools in a area of greater need going to be priorities for all of the functions of this bill or just some parts. I don’t want to see that schools east of the river are neglected, as some already are.
  3. So today has been a very long day so I failed to post anything today until now. I welcome any questions as well. My schedule today: My first priority today was homeschooling and lesson plans. Then my schedule consisted of getting everything ready for co-op this weekend, co-op market on Tuesday and our Healthy for the Holidays boxes distribution in libraries in Ward 7 for this coming Tuesday. I didn't get to all my calls that I still have to return- which that list is getting longer and longer! Today lots of on the phone confirming orders, making sure trucks will be on time for Saturday and on Tuesday am. Confirming that cold weather has not changed what we will have in boxes (which in a few cases it has). And finally I have finalized my entire market list and box list for co-ops. So this week's co-op boxes will have- all organic: Hamlin oranges, grapefruits, gala apples, yellow squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, green beans, chard, tomatoes, garlic, yellow onions, eggplants, and turnips Which sounds quite simple but my list was really different 2 days ago! We are also bringing in milk and eggs from PA, for our Healthy for the Holidays Boxes. I am making sure we are ready to go with volunteers to help with the market on Tuesday at the Senior Wellness Center in Ward 7 as well. I am trying HARD - to work with Washington parks and People to use the commercial kitchen permanently for our program- and working on a backup plan (east of the river) in case that doesn't work the way want it too. Any suggestions anyone has would be greatly appreciated. I am looking for a space for our Fresh Start Market / Cafe- which I'm learning the hard way is not an easy task! I did receive tons of information lately about equipment needs for commercial kitchens and how to work to start a community kitchen (shared use kitchen), but that’s about it! I do know that this will take time, so I’m also working on patience. My final project tonight – read through the new Healthy Schools Act of 2009 Bill that CM Cheh introduced, and then read up on the new Hoop House Share Program through the USDA that was just announced as well.
  4. I think in some instances there is a stigma about food benefits, but I think in this economic climate that is changing drastically. I think the reason food is usually cheaper in higher income areas is because there is food competition, so retailers will try to keep prices low to draw more people into shop with them. You find your food deserts in low income areas, so since you only have 3 major full service grocery retailers east of the river that has over 170,000 plus residents, large retailers have no reason to keep prices low. What other option do you community members have - you shop there or don't. If you don't then you have so many other people in the community that don't have access to transportation so they have no choice but pay more on healthy items or get some unhealthy food items that are always on sale. If large grocery retailers can work to keep higher income communities coming in, why can't they keep the prices the same in lower income areas. If they did the same theory would work, more people would come and buy healthy items, and they would helping the community- with a positive view of them by community members verses the one that they have now. When it comes down to your McDonald's dollar items- it's not just about subsidies (even though it does pay a major part) but it's also about their supply chain. When you look at how food chains work in the case of a McDonalds and produce- salad for example, the food is grown (of course) from the farmer it goes to a broker, the broker sales to a wholesaler (full line distributor in most cases), that distributor then sales to a food processor they then process it into value added products (salad mixes, cut up fruit) and then they sell it to another food distributor, that distributor is then the contracted food supplier for your McDonalds, then goes to McDonalds, and then someone buys it. So when you look at that model you have 6 companies before it gets to McDonalds or the customer. So why can't this be streamlined- farmer to McDonalds- then employees cut up food and sell to customer, it cuts out so many hands it would automatically cut prices. When it cuts the price for them it cuts the price for the consumer and BAM prices on healthier items like salads and fruit cups cheaper. I think we depend too much for our government to give our communities a hand up. I think the answer is in what Healthy Solutions does and many other smaller (grassroots) organization do, we listen and do. I think no community is the same, so those who serve it are better suited to help make changes then someone who comes in from some other place and does focus groups, and research (not saying that it does not make an impact because it does just not all the time is it necessary) - why not just ask the community what it needs. For example- as I mentioned a few days ago we are working with other folks in other areas trying to do what we do east of the river. One place is a town in Alabama called Thomaston - it's a very small town with about 360 residents. This town has no grocery store, has no restaurant, and only has 1 gas station. For their shopping residents grow a few things but the rest they go to the nearest large town about 45 minutes away. Thomaston has never had a grocery store- so about 10 years ago an organization built a farmers market. No one asked anyone in the town what they thought about it or if they would patronize it. So after the organizations grant funding ran out, the farmers market stopped. The structure still stands, but no one really goes and sets up a market - oh except one lady who drives 3 hours to set up 2 times a month, but no one really patronizes her either. WHY! Well no one ever asked the residents what they needed (well except me). No one knew that this community is so interrelated that people started growing their own food and created their own food swapping system. They had gone so long without a food supplier that they figured out how to do for themselves. Mind you it's not all they need- but when it's in season (which is very long in Alabama) they can get it from each other at affordable prices. One farmer actually said he liked their own little community set up because when he did go to the farmers market to set up no one would buy from him, because he had to set his prices at a price that no matter how many people came he could make money. And other neighbors already knew that if they buy these snap peas from him when he goes by his cousin’s house with a few bushels, they could get 3lbs for about 4.00, but when he's at the market he sells them for 3.00 a lb. So in this case instead of this organization taking grant money to build a farmers market- why not take that grant money and invest in a farming equipment and helping improve on the structure they already created. Why didn't they- because no one asked the community what they needed. When you actually talk to people- they will answer, and those of us in the community talking to people, we need help to, because I do recognize I don't have the resources to talk to council members every day to help change policy issues- but I can tell you what my community needs to tell you if those policy changes will make a lasting effect on the community. When you know what the community needs there is no need to constantly keep changing policies, programs, and services which costs us more than it helps us. If we talk to the communities of greatest need then we can start building the tools that will reconcile so many disparities that plague us. Surprisingly a lot of these disparities are intertwined so deep that if you untangle one, they all start loosening up, creating a change that will drastically impact our communities.
  5. Showing some pictures of Healthy Solutions cooking and nutrition classes (these classes we did with Healthy Living, Inc (Juliette is great) at the Riverside Center -Washington Parks and People) Cooking classes for youth and adults Encouraging parents to cook with their children Working together Of course the fun part.............. EATING
  6. So I was thinking of something to write about today. And I came across a very interesting article in the post today called Missing more than a meal When I read the articles on line I always feel inclined to read the comments. Especially when they are over 100 of them like on this article. So the article puts into perspective these families that have a great need, and that their needs are not being met, however I do think that these families could have benefit from more than just food benefits- things like basic shopping education and financial planning. I do like the project idea of showing people what the faces of hunger (those who are food insecure) look like. I applaud the effort to make eradicate hunger by 2015 I think there a lot of dynamics that play a part in food insecurity and hunger- besides access. 1) If the places that one can access food, and they are not affordable- then who can pay to eat them, so you go with out 2) If you depend on program to provide you with free food consistently how will you learn to be self- reliant and acquire the skills to make your family healthy and sustainable ( I don’t see anything wrong with free food programs- but often time people rely on them when they have no need to- but if they are taught financial literacy which would include how and where you can shop, etc- one would gain the skills so they wouldn’t have to rely completely on free programs when they are capable (physically, and mentally) to do for themselves. 3) The overall cost to live strains so hard on families that sometimes you literally have to choose not to eat healthy in order to pay for your electric bill. I don’t think sending millions to food banks in the only answer to solving the problem of hunger. If we can create jobs, and give people tools to enable themselves to economically feed themselves and their families than hunger can be elevated, but it would require all these components and more to make that happen to end child hood hunger by 2015. But my reason for bring this article up is to express of my opinion on some of the comments, and to relay them back to what we do as a organization. I noticed most comments on the article expressed a lot of anger on what people do who receive government benefits. Some even went to explain what people who are “poor” should do with their money if they had only 20.00 or 5.00 to spend to stretch them to the end of the month. many gave a lot of suggestion on how one can eat healthy instead of going hungry. But these commenter’s fail to realize- or maybe they lack information- that not every neighborhood has the same food options as others. Healthy Foods cost more in low income areas (and there are studies that show that). So if healthy foods cost more than their money doesn’t stretch as far as if they purchased unhealthy foods. I have noticed that if you don’t live in “poor” (which I think is a very poor choice of words to use – low income) areas, then they don’t know what it’s like to try to feed your family- if you’re on government assistance or not. The grocery stores and carry outs that are in low income areas have poor choices of food variety, often time very overly ripe produce, and very high prices on healthy foods. On comment said that if you have 5.00 you can buy “ AT LEAST a 1 pound bag of dry beans and a 1 pound bag of brown rice”. Unfortunately you have to be live close to a grocery store to purchase those items. And you have to hope that grocery store does carry brown rice. When your store does carry brown rice it will mostly cost you about 3.98 for it on a low price. The beans (1lb) will cost you 2.89 on special. I agree with the comment on McDonalds- and the unfortunate thing is that no matter what neighborhood your in the $1.00 menu still cost a dollar now other items are of question, but if you can make unhealthy things 1.00 thy can’t they work to make more healthy things 1.00 as well- especially since there are more McDonalds in low income areas as there are full service grocery stores. Unfortunately there are huge disparities in what foods are accessible to ALL communities. As long as this disparity exists issues that low income communities face will stay the same, and for these reasons and many many more is why Healthy Solutions will continue to do what it does! I just felt the need to share!
  7. I have another story, Last February I was sitting and talking with some women in ward 7. They were telling me of some of the health issues that their families are facing. One mothers story stood out to me so much that her oldest daughter later on became one of our youth interns. So this mother we will call her Eva. Eva is a 34 year old mother of 4 with her oldest being a girl ( our now youth intern) who is 16, he other children are all boys 14, 11, and 9. So I asked then women (it was a group of 6 of us), what did they see or did they feel where some of the health challenges that their families face. Eva without hesitation told me that she didn’t understand why these doctors tell you to do things that are impossible for you to do. I asked her to explain. She told us that her 11 year old son had seen 3 different doctors, he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when he was 10. She said the doctors said he has to lose weight and eat better. Her 11 year old son who we will call Derrick stands all of 5’0 and weights 280lb. Eva explained how she felt helpless, every doctor tells her the same thing – eat better and get exercise. But he has no place safe to play outside and the food in the grocery store is to expensive to feed a growing boy. She’s tried getting him fruits and vegetables but when she spent over 30.00 in the store for enough food for him alone – when she got home from her 2 hour bus ride, the food was spoiled or dry in the inside. She explained that since she takes government assistance she has to go through extreme red tape to get her son different services. And finally services she was able to get her son enrolled into the bus and train ride over was so long that he was dropped for not being on time. She just wanted something that would help her family! She didn’t want her children to suffer because of what she didn’t know. She felt that her hands were tied. One other woman asked how Derrick was doing in school. Eva explained to he was a straight B student until 2 months back when one of his doctors, put him some medication, and his moods started to swing. He got so emotional at one time that he attacked a student, and threw a chair across the room. She said the medicines were making him worse. She went on to explain that one day he even tried to attack his sister, and they had to call 911, when the police got there they sent him to the hospital where he was right now, in the psychiatric unit. She broke down in tears and said she didn’t know what to do, but she knew this was no way for her child to have to live. So I told her that I couldn’t get her son out of the hospital on my own, but I can make sure her family has the food they need. I told her that her daughter (who was looking for a job now) would be more than welcomed to work with us. And since she is a youth intern she would get her stipend and free fresh fruits and vegetables every week. Derrick later got out of the hospital, but since he had been so long out of school he had to make up in summer school or stay back a grade. He still is now under different medication to control his temper.
  8. Newsletters made up 4 times a year One thing off the list thanks!
  9. I wanted to add one more note, because I was asked this question off board. If anyone is willing to donate any items to Healthy Solutions we are a federally recognized 501 © 3 so your donations would be tax deductible and would submit to you a receipt of your donation to use for tax purposes. Also yes we will take used kitchen equipment if it is from a commercial kitchen. Thanks for all the inquiries
  10. So in a perfect world these are the things and services we need to make all of our programs work Wish list Money to expand training and outreach/ markets/ and fresh start program Newsletters made up 4 times a year Co-op membership cards printed Co-op gift cards printed up Flyers printed Flyers distributed Places to hold markets Admin help (return emails, answer calls) Volunteers for co-op pick up points Volunteers to deliver food Volunteers for event set ups Volunteer Guest Chef for cooking/ nutrition classes Volunteer Guest Chef for markets Volunteers to pack Freggie Boxes Pots/ Pans Cook ware Cleaning supplies Mixing bowls Tables for markets New market banners EBT wireless machine Disposable plates/ napkins and trays Cutting boards Chef hats Chef coats Kitchen volunteers to help youth produce value added products ( cut up produce to make fruit cups, salads, salsa, ect) Re-usable bag for delivery of boxes (DDOE is all out) New Logo for the Fresh Start Passenger vehicle to transport youth and adults Our own delivery van (refrigerated) A warming table Coffee machines Juicers Refrigerators Shelves Café tables Café chairs Refrigerated produce bar Cash registers Checkout counter Display racks Wood to make garden boxes Tiller Organic fertilizer / compost Garden supplies ( sign posts, shovels, racks, compost bins) Market supplies ( baskets, signs, bags) Land to grow produce on (not far from ward 7 and 8 for easy commute for youth and adults) Easier website designed to take orders and do outreach and education Adult educators (financial literacy, literacy, nutrition education, life skills, cooking, healthy lifestyles) Cook books ( help us make and produce one for the community) Aprons Disposable gloves An assistant- to go meeting and programs in my place so I can do more homeschooling Ways to help expand what we do: letting people know we exist, letting people know we need help, letting others know what some needs are east of the river. Hosting co-op pick up points Hosting co-op box distribution in your place of business or work Hosting fundraisers for us Volunteering in some of the roles listed above Helping us with policy work- trying to get some rules changed- like Public housing and not allowing us to set up markets on in communities of greatest need Providing pro bono services: lawyers, accountants, website design, marketing, distribution, educators Assisting with youth garden that we are starting Helping us design. Set up and start the Fresh Start Market/ Café Help us set up an culinary training curriculum (the one we are looking at would cost us $6,000.00) Offer spaces so we can teach cooking classes/ and culinary training in other places east of the river Offer time to be a guest chef Blog about us Come out a purchase from us Any thing else your willing to help us to expand in other areas, and have skills to help us with we will greatly appreciate.
  11. We rely a lot on local farms, but we also source from other places as well. So we bring in oranges from Florida. We also source a lot from down south (ga., al, nc, and ms.). We also fly some stone fruit over from the west coast as well. We use transportation companies and have then back haul us things in to keep cost down. But if it's not local it has to be from a certified organic farm, or one I have been to myself to know that they use organic methods ( from the seeds to fertilizers)only because they are too small to require a organic certification. I am very particular about what we feed people. I believe that if you’re willing to pay even a penny for it you deserve the best quality and best food that is available. No support from the Mayor, no one actually want to meet with us either, I have sent some emails, and I'm told " your doing such great work", but that’s as far as the communication with them goes. I even asked about trying to supply them with turkeys for their giveaways during thanksgiving holiday- they informed me that they source from SHARE (the Maryland based nonprofit) and they weren’t interested. I asked if they could help us with distributing our Healthy for the Holidays boxes, they also informed me that they couldn’t help with that since people would have to purchase food, and they don’t help with a program that would require the purchase of anything.
  12. Thank you Zora! I will definately get that list out!
  13. Since I am to update on my day to day tasks- Here we go: Today is a very interesting day of the week for me, because we are getting in gear for the weekend - markets, and senior deliveries. But even more so today because we have officially submitted a proposal to Washington Parks and People to use the Riverside Center for our Fresh Start Market/ Cafe. We even received a call from North Carolina to replicate the same thing there- which is GREAT! But we still would need to findraise to do so! So since I have the floor I am hoping someone can answer my question. What is a fair proposed price for payment for the use of a site (both organizations are nonprofits) to put on a program like our Fresh Start Market/ Cafe? We want to set the amount as a percentage of our net profits. Any profits from the market are going towards paying employees and to create opportunities to train more people in the community- so we don't want to take too much from that but we have to pay for our space. Any suggestions? Ok so back to my day- we have confirmed our food is being harvest, we have vans sent out or leaving tomorrow to get items, and we have market staff ready to go. We are sending out flyers as a reminder for markets, and this week no co-op so that makes things a little easier on me. During my childrens nap time : I am planning for our Healthy for the Holiday Box distribution at the libraries east of the river on December 22nd so I am sending out reminders to families that haven't ordered yet to do so, and having some youth send out flyers in the community and place them at libraries. I also am holding a conference call about starting 3 youth garden this summer and having youth in public housing run it. Later this evening I am going over next weeks class information with a nutritionist. I am talking to DOH about starting a breastfeed incentive program using fresh fruits and vegetable for women on WIC. Then shutting down early tonight because tomorrow we visit farms to get ready for next years crop needs for the co-op!
  14. Thank you for inviting me to do this, and I too am excited!
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