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Community Wins a Point for Healthier Food in Sacramento...

posted Jul 6, 2012, 4:00 PM by Alberto Mercado   [ updated Jul 6, 2012, 4:00 PM by Julio Zaldivar ]
Christine Tien
Program Manager for Building Healthy Communities, Sacramento

There are more than 160,000 fast food restaurants in the United States. But there won’t be a new one in the Oak Park neighborhood of Sacramento.

That’s because the City Council just nixed plans to open a McDonald’s there after an outpouring of opposition from community residents. These residents were concerned that the increased traffic would make it harder to bike and walk. Others want healthier dining options in their community.

Asael Sala at Pesticide Watch, one of Sacramento Building Healthy Communities’ partners took a moment to clarify that it was not a battle against McDonald’s.  It really was about a community taking charge, standing up and fighting for what it wants. “The people here want more than just take-out and drive-thru fast-food chains. They want a diversified range of affordable and accessible food available in their community.”

The residents of the South Sacramento area have shown that they are not “all talk with no action” when it comes to bringing healthier food options to their community. They came together to open the Saturday Oak Park Farmers Market, which offers an EBT exchange with a dollar for dollar match. Community gardens are now sprouting up all over the neighborhood and community members participate in organized Crop Swaps. Crops Swaps provides residents with a venue to exchange the fruit and veggies they have grown.

The community involvement doesn’t stop there. Soil Born Farms is working with volunteer youth and residents to glean fruit from neighborhood trees and redistributing the collected fruit back out to residents living within the building healthy communities target area. Fresh Producers is currently partnering with youth from various schools in the target area to distribute fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables to the community. Participating youth learn entrepreneurial skills and earn commissions for each bag of produce they sell. The goal is to develop young leaders in the community who can advocate for policies that can ensure the health of their neighborhoods – one block at a time.