Wellness and food are two topics that have trended well over the last few years. Millennials are concerned about their health and what they are putting into their bodies. We have all seen the shift the food industry has taken to meet the needs of the wellness-minded consumer. The biggest change has been seen within the fast food industry which now promotes using natural ingredients to create customer favorites. For instance, McDonald’s began posting nutrition facts on their products in 2012. Even Subway began a nationwide eat healthy campaign to promote health and wellness. People are now more conscious about living a healthy and active lifestyle and making sure to incorporate them into their daily routines.
The common trend that is seen in many low-income urban neighborhoods is unhealthy food eateries or small convenience store stocked with high-calorie foods. It’s not common to see these types of neighborhoods have smart and healthy food options or local vendors making them available. The best way to move forward is to create areas and build locations that could be the start of supporting healthy lifestyles. Not only should these options be available, but also be affordable. Most Americans in the U.S. are not able to purchase whole foods due to the high cost per family or household. How can the absence of health and wellness be restored in a community that is lacking the resources?
We have heard the old saying about using the best of what the land has to offer. In many of these urban communities, there are vacant lots and abandoned buildings that can be redeveloped to serve the neighborhood. A vacant lot can be transformed into a community garden that has been a popular idea for many cities over the past few years. Community gardens provide individuals and families the opportunity to have fresh fruits and vegetables right in their neighborhood free of charge. These gardens have also doubled as meeting grounds for residents to gather and connect. All who participate will be adding value to their communities, which can build appreciation for the environment around them. When a person feels they belong then they will continue to nurture and protect an area that is their home. When you see a community caring about your personal well-being, then it becomes easier to reciprocate as a team player and community member. With the spaces provided, people will begin planting and growing, helping to change the narrative of how low-income neighborhoods are perceived, one community garden at a time.
With the growth of community gardens, people will be more aware of how they shop when going to a local grocery store or a major grocery chain outside of the neighborhood. Learning even the basics of how agriculture works, can change your thought process and approach to how you purchase groceries for your household. Alongside these community gardens, there should be farmers market to provide the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables. A Farmers’ market will offer an abundance of whole foods that will fit the needs of the consumers in the area. These markets will be the first gateway to exploring healthy food options that are available right down the block. With the help of community gardens and farmers markets, community leaders are raising the bar for community health and wellness. Adding in a farmers market will attract other businesses who are aligned with a health and wellness mission to the neighborhood. Inspiring farm to table restaurants, juice bars, and more to enter the entrepreneurial fabric of the neighborhood. It’s these steps that can change how urban neighborhoods are viewed by investors and potential residents, to take a chance on places like Overtown.
As the saying goes, health is wealth. However, not all residents have the resources to live a healthy lifestyle. Planning and facilitating healthy community options does not have to be a difficult one. A community can provide healthy food and wellness programs for its residents through sustainable urban gardens. Redeveloping lots – abandoned now for several years – to create these spaces, is a great way to help revitalize a community. Bring in a new concept that will connect and teach locals to lead their own healthy lifestyles. There is great potential in Overtown, residents will embrace options that will help them thrive.