What type of food is available in your neighborhood?
The students at one of our Gotham Grazer schools sought to answer this question with their food mapping project, which they presented at their annual Harvest Celebration last week. Working in groups, the students located different sustainable and unsustainable resources within their communities, plotting them first on digital maps and later creating posters to display.
Depending on the ratio of sustainable to unsustainable resources, the students determined if the area they mapped should be considered a food desert, or an area that lacks access to supermarkets and fresh, healthy food.
How does living in a food desert affect someone's daily life?
Without fresh fruits and vegetables, people can develop a myriad of health problems (obesity, diabetes, ADHD, fatigue), as well as an overall disinterest in eating healthy. Since the food we eat affects our ability to focus and stay awake, lacking access to healthy food can hinder a student's performance in school. Looking at it from a bigger picture, without farmers markets and community gardens, community members have less opportunities for interacting and strengthening neighborhood bonds. People who see where their food is grown, or know where it comes from, are more likely to care about supporting local farmers and to be educated in food-related issues.
The students researched many of the consequences mentioned above that relate to living in a food desert (or for some, the positive consequences of not living in a food desert). They also included at least one solution on their posters, such as identifying a green space where a garden could be started.
Although the students were initially hesitant about the amount of work this project entailed, it was very clear at the Harvest Celebration that they had learned a lot about their communities and understood that eating sustainably is important for humans and the environment.