Before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, US food systems already faced serious challenges in achieving equitable access to healthy, nutritious food for all. During the pandemic, dietary quality and diversity were affected foremost through declining incomes but also through trade and movement restrictions that have disproportionately affected the availability of nutritious perishable products. Lockdowns shuttered schools and daycare centers, which provide critical meals and supplementary nutrition to hundreds of millions of young children.
Kentucky has the eighth-highest rate of food insecurity in the nation and the highest rate among adults ages 50-59 at 17.3%, which is well above the national average of 10.6%, according to Feeding America. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity among seniors in Kentucky was substantially higher than it was before the Great Recession. The elderly, who are already at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and represent a proportional percentage of Kentucky’s rural population, are more susceptible when they are food insecure. While 196,000 seniors in Kentucky are eligible for SNAP benefits, just 32% benefit from the program.
More than half of the counties in Kentucky, 71-of-120, have a child food insecurity rate of 20% or higher, and 67% of SNAP participants in Kentucky are families with children, according to the report. About half of all food-insecure Kentuckians are eligible for SNAP benefits. This all goes back to lack of access.
2020_ Projected rates of food insecurity in the USA.
Data: Feeding America
Paradoxically, by upending our world, 2020 also offered a wide array of lessons, innovations, and opportunities that can transform our food systems not just to make them more resilient but also to make them more inclusive, efficient, sustainable, and healthy.
Households found new food channels in 2020. These new food channels included farmers markets, CSA or direct from a producer, community gardens, and food boxes. This normalization of out-of-the-box approaches has fundamentally changed thinking about the potential of food system transformation, making this the right time for the deep changes that are needed.
5th Element Farms
There are five elements of hip hop culture:
Graffiti, and the
fifth element is
Marial Gardner and Michael George started 5th Element farm endeavor early 2020 just before COVID. The farm is located on a food apartheid neighborhood in Louisville: West Louisville. Marial and Michael started 5th element farm to create an extra income from creating of pickle business.
However, with COVID shutdowns in full swing, Marial and Michael couldn’t help but to think how they can use their garden to serve the community with healthy food options. In their first season, 2020, during COVID lock down they distributed about 300 pounds of food.
I am a farmer out of strive.
Why do I have to work so hard for food,
I'd rather be doing something else
and that's equity"
I gotta be at my day job at 6:30 am and I gotta think about my time schedule for the farm.
It just exhausting.
I'm trying to do this one thing for us and me,
and the powers that be,
not working with me.
And I'm trying to supplement what they are not doing."
If it grows, you can eat it.
I asked the city councilman David Tandy at that time. Can I have access to this land and it was a whole Long blocks, so I started teaching the kids right then and there, how to grow and live off the land right there.
They used to take vegetables that they harvest.
If it grows, you can eat it, I tell them, you can share with the neighbors, there was a lot of elder people there in a neighborhood.
So when an elder sees a young child, it puts a smile on their face. It's just the connection that we have. So to bring the kids back with the community, the nature and everything. Ti'Dal.
Like other low income communities of colors across the nation, the West end of Louisville, predominantly black neighborhood, is food apartheid. A young generation from the neighborhood growing up with little to no access to fresh food saw an opportunity in the use of many abandoned lands in the neighborhood to feed the community, repair ancestral connections, heal generational trauma and develop livable futures in the West End like its original residents want it without the cost of gentrification.
Ti'Dal found an opportunity in the abandoned house next to his. For 20 years no one cleared the backyards where weed started growing attracting animals and insects... Since he started in Jan 2022 Ti'Dal cleaned the front and backyard of the next door abandoned house and planted flowers, watermelons, tomatoes, herbs......He designed it in a way that he cultivate vegetables all year around from his gardens.
Actually all year round I have amorous I have plantain I have burdock. I have curly dock, I have tomatoes, several different varieties, hibiscus and they come back every year and just the the tea that you make off of these they help you get through the winter time.
Ag In the City
Ag In the City
AG IN THE CITY is 4 acres farm in the middle of a block neighborhood in the West End. Between the houses comes these two tunnels looking like the entrance to the farm, with raised beds for the community to use, a pond with fishes and ......all sort of trees, medicinal herbs and flowers, berries, vegetables, compost and even 5 pigs.
Stephen Lewis, the founder build the place with volunteers from the neighborhood and the urban garden community of Kentucky.
Rusellville Urban Gardening Project
Dr. Nancy Dawson
"African American Studies, we weren't taught what we should have been.
We weren't really taught about the origins of African American people in this country. We were brought here because of lower scale farming. We were brought to the Carolinas because we were in rice production. We were brought to places like Kentucky because we were in hemp. We were brought to places because we were in corn.
We were brought to this country because of large scale agriculture because we were doing it already in Africa.
But that's not something we were taught in African American Studies. It's not something I really taught.
It's something I teach now"
Rusellville Urban Gardening Project, founded by Dr. Dawson ten years ago. The Project goal is as she likes to call it " Demonstration Farm". With a partnership with the City of Rusellville, who gave away the land, and the Kentucky State University. The Farm is a space where farming from all its aspects is taught, from learning how to plant or raise chickens to how to turn farming into business.
Since the Pandemic Dr. Dawson seen an increase in the level of participation. The project solicited community's interest as they became more interested in farming and learning about where their food come from.
& Majestic Greens Farm
"I never expected to have a job based on my name. So my name is Davida Flowers. My businesses Davida's Flowers, it was a no brainer."