Fighting for a Food Secure Future
ACFC and Sprouts Finish First of Many Planned School Garden Builds Across LA
While the balmy, sun-soaked climate of Los Angeles may give it a reputation as a veritable desert, many of LA’s underserved communities are experiencing a desert of a different kind. When it comes to food and nutrition, food deserts—or areas with limited access to affordable healthy foods—are rampant in low-income communities across LA, and the pandemic has significantly worsened the problem.
A mission near and dear to the heart of Angel City Football Club is ensuring children’s most basic needs are met and that kids get into and continue to remain involved with sports. ACFC found an ideal partner to combat this issue with its exclusive back-of-jersey sponsor, healthy grocery retailer Sprouts Farmers Market and the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. Earlier this year, the duo identified access to nutritious foods as a major barrier to healthy outcomes for kids in LA. Compounding the issue was a lack of safe green spaces for children to experience nature and nutritional education.
To this end, ACFC and Sprouts have dedicated a portion of sponsorship funds to support the Garden School Foundation (GSF), an organization that develops school gardens and related educational programs for Title I schools in Los Angeles. GSF builds gardens in low-income areas and provides ongoing support for upkeep and awareness. Over the next year, the ACFC x Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation will create eight school gardens with GSF with a blend of monetary support and hands-on effort through their joint project—the Nutrition Access Program. The Program’s two-pronged approach is designed to better student education while improving access through food distribution.
On September 17-18, ACFC and Sprouts kicked off the Nutritional Access Program at the 24th Street Elementary School, revitalizing their student garden and conducting community outreach. Volunteers from Angel City helped clear weeds and debris, install new gardens and plantings, and prepared the space for kids to return to and enjoy. ACFC Co-founder and President Julie Uhrman was on hand to help with the garden rebuild and to partake in dialogue about food access. “We talk about essentials being really important for Angel City, and the idea that we can help kids learn early about building healthy habits is something that they are going to take with them throughout their entire lives,” said Uhrman.
The garden will help teach young children about healthy food choices and supply them with produce to supplement their diets. Any excess food grown will be shared with other members of the community. “What’s really exciting about Angel City Football Club is that the organization shares that same commitment to giving back, being involved, and not just doing it from a distance,” said Lyndsey Waugh, executive director, Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. “Today, we had 40 volunteers from both organizations that were up to their elbows in dirt.”
The garden will also serve as a natural green space to which most students would otherwise not have access. Garden Educator Tatianna Marin echoed the importance of the work: “Providing kids access and opportunity to land, gardening, and food is so important, especially being in mid-city LA, and that the community and their kids are able to get food from this garden because it gives them easier access to eat healthy food.”
However, no lone school garden can single handedly feed the number of community families experiencing food insecurity. The Nutrition Access Program also includes a collaboration with Food Forward, a nonprofit that brings fresh surplus fruits and vegetables to people experiencing food insecurity across Southern California. To kick off the program, Food Forward provided 1,500 pounds of fresh produce that Angel City volunteers transported to 24th Street Elementary. Moving forward, they will make deliveries twice monthly, helping ACFC, Sprouts, and GSF deliver over 40,000 servings of fruit to underserved families in LA through the end of 2021. This partnership will carry through to all eight school garden locations as ACFC and Sprouts continue their campaign to make sure families across LA have consistent access to nutritious food.