Welcome to my blog! As the coordinator of the Ingredients for Change Campaign, I am spending this year visiting 30 low-income communities throughout the USA that are actively working to create more equitable and accessible healthy food systems to combat food insecurity and disproportionately high rates of obesity and diabetes. It's my job to partner with community groups that help low-income populations gain greater accessibility to healthy food sources. I assist each group in planning a community screening of the feature documentary Food, Inc., in order to create a public engagement and action opportunity, and reach audiences "beyond the choir." The Campaign is being run by Active Voice - my organization - and Participant Media (the film's producer), and is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This blog will provide some snapshots of what I've observed , and some of the inspiring projects and people I've met. I hope you enjoy it - and please feel free to contribute and/or contact me with your questions and perspectives. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: The views and perspectives expressed in this blog are those of Matthew Green, and do not reflect the positions of Active Voice, Participant Media, or The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Espanola, NM – 2/3/2010

After becoming very aware that I was in the jaws of death, futility trying to drive my swerving compact Hyundai rental car in a Southwestern snow storm (and realizing that I was physically unable to stop), I rented a 4WD truck and headed north to the town of Espanola, NM in Rio Arriba County. The meeting was held at the health council offices and convened by the department director. The first portion of the meeting was about forming a local food policy council. There were about 25 attendees who were mainly ranchers and farmers, as well as some health workers. The organizers conveyed that hosting this screening event - in late April - would be a great opportunity to let the community know about the council and get input/support. The second portion of the meeting, in which I presented, was met with a seemingly positive response.

A brief community snapshot: According to the health director, Rio Arriba, whose residents are mostly Hispanic and Native America, has a rate of diabetes and obesity roughly 3 times the rate of surrounding counties. There are high levels of poverty, and little nutritional food access. It also has the highest rate of substance-related death in the entire country. Yet, there are a lot of farmers and ranchers eager to sell locally. As one woman said in response to the film clips: "It makes me realize how lucky I am to live here. We have everything we need."

The trick is - bringing that abundance to the people in the community who need it most.

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