by GEHRY OATEY
The Center for Disease control tells us that 72 million Americans are victims of obesity. This post is not going to be another hope-squelching commentary on how fat we are getting in America. Although there is substantial evidence to support that thought, this short piece can provide some glitter around a project that is helping to prevent obesity.
Every Wednesday, volunteer parents and middle school students run the produce stand at Melrose Leadership Academy in East Oakland. Community members, teachers, parents, student, and staff congregate around each week’s fresh delivery of produce, much of which comes from local farms. Perhaps only at the DMV might you find people from a wider range of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds in same place. In this case, instead of waiting to register their car, they’re keeping it real over a collage of garlic, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, onions, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, strawberries, and bananas.
The food at the market changes by the season, and it isn’t uncommon to have an 8th grader and someone over 50 breaking it down over a tangerine:
“Is it sweet?”
“Nah, that’s on the sour side—if you like it like that. Try one of those kumquats—they’re even more sour and tangy.”
The school market is the brainchild of the Oakland Farm to Schools network, a collaboration between the East Bay Asian Youth Center, the Oakland Unified School District Nutrition Services, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Have a listen to the following podcast and see for yourself how this market—and other school markets like it—are providing access to affordable produce in the local community, supporting local organic farms, and building community around healthy food.
Thank you to KPFA’s Imogene Tondre who helped to put this piece together.