Food access amidst COVID-19: RR Mutual Aid Efforts & EBT certification
Healthy communities means access to healthy food. These past two months have been all about access for us here at the Resilient Root Community Farm. We’ve been thinking about two things: how do we make our (newly implemented!) Community Supported Agriculture program more accessible to our working class neighbors & how do we support COVID-19 impacted community members? To these ends, we’ve been busy working towards EBT/SNAP certification and checking in on neighbors and connecting them with mutual aid efforts, including our own weekly Good Food Bag and soil + seeds distribution.
Two alumni of the RR program testified on behalf of VietLead to get EBT/SNAP certification at the Camden City Council meeting on Tuesday, 5/12. They made powerful points to the City Council about why local, organic and affordable produce is necessary in Camden as well as how good food can support the health of those impacted by COVID-19. Naajia shared:
“Growing up in Camden, corner stores and fast-food restaurants were common places to get food, though it was unhealthy, it was an easy way to obtain quick meals. However, I noticed there were only a few grocery stores to provide my community with nutritious food and fresh produce. It was at this time I wished that affordable grocery stores were more accessible to people in my neighborhood, and this influenced my decision to start gardening. The Resilient Roots Farmer’s Stand is important because we provide fresh and natural produce that is grown by youth from the Camden and Pennsauken area for the community of Camden. Though our prices are already low and affordable, we want to make EBT/SNAP an available option to those that cannot pay with money to make it easier for them to receive produce from the farm.”
Monica Hernandez (pictured above), alumna and returning RR co-coordinator, pointed out:
“I believe that the farm produce we grow is a beneficial asset to the community as well as a great need now especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. East Camden is currently a hot spot for COVID and there is now a testing site at Dudley Grange Park. Resilient Roots Farm is right around the corner at 29th and Cramer st. This is an opportunity for good, healthy food to support the wellness of those who are impacted by the virus.”
COVID-19 reveals itself as a new reality that is rapidly unfolding. To support our community and in the spirit of mutual aid, VietLead staff have also been calling our neighbors to check in on how our organization can best support needs — whether it is connecting families to pre-existing food banks or supporting with form translation. During the first week of May, Farmers Lan and Minh distributed soil and seeds to 10 families to support their efforts in growing their own food — an especially endeavor during COVID-19. Pictured above are handouts that we shared to neighbors, explaining how to plant using the seeds and soil we shared!
We are excited to announce that our first CSA box will be ready next week. We will be distributing these boxes to community members and families in the neighborhood — we are grateful that the plants that we grow will be going towards feeding families most impacted by this public health and economic crisis. In this way, we hope to do our part in cultivating a healthy neighborhood by remembering that community begins with care.
About the Grantee
VietLead is a grassroots organization that strives to improve health, increase sovereignty, and develop Vietnamese leadership in solidarity through intergenerational farming; youth leadership; health navigation; policy advocacy; and civic engagement. Our Food Sovereignty and community garden program was built from seeing how food is an important part of how refugees practice self-determination.