Food deserts are population areas that experience limited access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food. These barriers range from physical impediments (eg, lack of grocery stores) to socioeconomic (eg, traditional dietary preferences, lack of transportation). Many of these impediments lead to the wide health disparities seen between the different racial/ethnic communities in America.
Macon County, Alabama is comprised almost entirely of food deserts as most areas are made up of small rural towns. The county seat of Tuskegee has a population of less than 10,000 residents. Small cities such as Tuskegee are hubs for even smaller towns, like Shorter and Notasulga. Residents in these rural communities must drive 20-30 miles away to shop in a larger city with access to a much larger variety of stores and restaurants.
SEED Inc has developed a holistic response that is key to the elimination of food deserts and food insecurity by coordinating with students, parents, farmers, and community institutions.
Our Farm School program engages children in grades K-12 in a curriculum of agriculture, culminating in the installation of a one-acre mini-farm at each school in Macon County. The produce from these school gardens will be split three ways. One portion will be sold back to the school cafeteria under the Farm-to-School program, with students opening up bank accounts with the profit. Another portion will be canned and stored in a food bank housed at the school. The last portion will be used to prepare community meals for Dinner and a Movie Night once a week at each school.
Schools house a community food bank for use in the event of emergency.
Schools will also house a seed bank for local farmers in the event of emergency.
Dinner and a Movie Night
To introduce the broader community to fresh produce prepared in a variety of delicious recipes, SEED incorporates “Dinner and a Movie Night” into the Farm School curriculum.
The SEED Apprenticeship Program helps local farmers to increase their productive capacity, with the goal of meeting the annual consumption needs of the residents of Macon County. SEED also acts as a liaison with the farming community and the school district through the Farm-to-School program.