Fighting Poverty with Passion
There’s a unique scene in New Orleans. What a shocking statement. “New Orleans is unique?! Never knew.” Truly. In my mind New Orleans was all partying and jazz and Mardi Gras beads and Big Ass Beers – I viewed it through the filter of my experience; one that was admittedly very shallow. Luckily, I now have VISTA eyes.
“This will be a good learning experience for you,” said Teddy as we approached the Tulane School of Public Health. We were meeting with Kevin Crooks, the Intern for Food Day here in New Orleans. The point was to make Food Day more meaningful and impactful in New Orleans. emerged from this 20th floor office.
We began by collecting projects from local community gardens and then the volunteers to complete them. The New Orleans French Market, always showcasing locally grown food, was our natural partner. Soon we were tabling in the middle of the French Market Food Court recruiting volunteers. Several people stopped by, cautiously approaching, close enough to see why we were there but far enough to not get reeled in. “If only there was a community garden in the East.” her long way of saying “I want to volunteer in my own neighborhood.”
Kevin and I smiled at Ms. Lisa and pointed to Pastor Jon Kehl tabling next to us. “Our Garden is in the East!” he replied. The two went on for 15 minutes about the purpose and mission of the garden. They’ll be harvesting together next year.
The longer I stay here, the more I feel a stranger to my hometown. I know more about the culture and inner workings of New Orleans than those of Central. Thankfully, I have Ms. Lisa’s example to follow – i just have to ask.
NOLA Fresh Food Day went on to be a success. In total, more than 50 volunteers spent their saturday mornings in their local community gardens. They helped harvest, plant new crops, expand the beds, built raised ones, cleared area for future expansion, and brought home fresh food, grown three blocks away by people they know.