How the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is Expanding Urban Produce Oases

People who live in warmer climates are lucky. Not only do they get to enjoy the weather, but they also have the benefit of fresh produce year-round. In the Midwest, it's tough for herbivores (or anyone, for that matter) to get their hands on produce that actually tastes fresh, not like it's been shipped across the country. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, based in Battle Creek, Michigan, believes that people shouldn't be left out in the cold when it comes to fresh produce, and it has granted $5 million to Will Allen's Growing Power Inc. (See W.K. Kellogg Foundation: Grants for Public Health.)

Based in Milwaukee with ongoing projects in Chicago, Growing Power isn't just about ecological sustainability — it's about creating healthy, food-secure communities one neighborhood at a time. If you've ever been to or lived in the inner city or another impoverished area of a community, you are painfully aware of the lack of healthy food. Foods offered by convenience or small grocery stores in these areas tend to be of the heavily preserved, high-fat variety. These foods go against the national grain of fighting heart disease, diabetes, and obesity — especially in children. Growing Power, with the help of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's $5 million grant, is expanding its healthy-food efforts with community urban gardens and hoop-house greenhouses that provide fresh and affordable produce all year long.

As you may have noticed, Growing Power's focus is not just on donating produce to food-insecure communities; it asks the residents of these communities to participate in growing the food, maintaining the greenhouses, and working in the urban farms. The result is a community with a vested interest in the urban farms and in lower prices for fresh produce. Growing Power does, however, donate food to local homeless populations. (Read Kellogg Foundation Program Director Linda Jo Doctor's IP profile.)

Why are movements like this one so important? Well, because nobody should go hungry in the wealthiest nation in the world. Not to mention that where you live should not preclude you from having fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables, no matter what your socioeconomic status.