Paterson YouthCares has spent the past few months talking about food insecurity and ways that we can help our community eat healthier and get greater access to food resources.
The first half of our project is centered around community gardens, which will have an effect on food insecurity and healthy eating, as well as Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). Throughout the summer, we will be helping at three gardens. The first is the Green Acre community garden, which is in the fourth ward of Paterson. One of the challenges for people in the fourth ward is a lack of access to grocery stores. There are no larger grocery stores, so many people get their food at local bodegas, where the selection is small and fresh fruits and vegetables are scarce. Green Acre grows fruits and vegetables, and distributes them for free to the people in the neighborhood. One of Green Acre’s goals is to build a greenhouse. Having a greenhouse would mean they could extend their growing season into the fall and winter months. Our team is supporting the purchase of materials and helping with its construction. We will also be creating a vertical garden at School No. 5 in Paterson. The garden will be used to hold community events such as concerts and outdoor movies. In the past, the space where the garden is located has been a place where unwanted behavior happened, and our hope is to have more community members use the garden, which will reduce crime. Finally, we will work in the garden at the Great Falls Youth Center and donate the vegetables.
The other half of our summer project will consist of working to increase the number of people in Paterson who are registered to receive SNAP benefits. Statistics show that there are a great number of people in our community who are food insecure, but are not receiving the benefits that are available to them. We will also be doing community mapping focused on existing food resources. We will distribute this resource to organizations who refer eligible community members to places where they can get food.
Our team is very excited to have created a project we feel will really help the people in our community. Connect with us and follow our progress here.
Follow the team’s progress on Twitter, plus track all of the Next Generation Community Leaders teams through the hashtag #NJLeaders2030.