Thursday, July 31, 2014

Planting the seeds for healthier communities

"Being a woman of color, born and raised in the South, I want to dedicate my life to improve health in whatever way I can," says Leandra Lacy, an MPH student and intern at an inner-city garden. "I believe knowledge is power, and I want to spread as much knowledge as I can."

By Elaine Justice, Emory Report

The Super Giant Community Garden, run by the Emory Urban Health Initiative, aims to provide Northwest Atlanta with a more nutritious selection of foods. The area is considered a food desert, marked by limited access to grocery stores, fresh foods and convenient transportation.

The community garden is located in the parking lot of the Super Giant Foods grocery store, which is also working to expand healthy offerings. Organizers hope to eventually create a "Healthy Hub" for the area that will include a community kitchen, health clinic, childcare facilities and a laundromat.

"We have several regulars who come in," says DeJa Love, who became involved in the project as an undergraduate intern in Emory's Ethics and Servant Leadership Program. "We connect with them about nutrition and healthy living," Love says. "Being a listening ear, that's what my job has turned into."

"I live less than a mile away from a Kroger and a Publix," says Leandra Lacy, an MPH student working alongside Love at the urban garden. "To be in an area of Northwest Atlanta that's a food desert — besides the Super Giant and the garden in the parking lot, there isn't another grocery store within a 10 mile radius — was hard for me to fathom. I'm just glad that I'm in this place where I can be present and really get to know the people there and help open up access to healthy food." 

More than 30 Emory student interns are working with Atlanta non-profits this year while completing a non-credit ethics course on what it means to be not just a leader, but a servant leader.

Read more in Emory Report.

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