September 8, 2017
by Kate Giammarise
A full-color, 33-page guide aims to connect Homewood residents with healthy fresh food in their community.
The Homewood Healthy Food and gardening Access Guide, which contains information about community gardens, farmers’ markets, stores and emergency food resources, will be available beginning Saturday at the Homewood Good Food Festival in the in the 7100 block of Kelly Street.
The guide came about after conversations with neighborhood residents about the area’s food system and was compiled by nonprofit Homewood Children’s Village and Rachel Bukowitz, an Elsie Hillman Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh.
Lacking a large supermarket, Homewood is sometimes referred to as “food desert,” though it does have lots of nonprofit and other initiatives to get food to residents.
“There’s organizations trying to bring fresh and healthy produce to Homewood and there were residents that wanted fresh and healthy produce and didn’t know where to get it,” explained Ms. Bukowitz, who has since graduated.
Ms. Bukowitz was in the inaugural class of the Elsie Hillman Honors Scholars Program, run by Pitt’s Institute of Politics. The program connects students with community partners to develop a project that is beneficial to the organization and the community.
Pitt covered the printing costs of the guide.
“People aren’t going to go outside of our community [on public transportation] to a farmer’s market and carry all these groceries. But if they understand there are places in our community to acquire healthy food, they will take advantage of it,” said Ayanna Jones, who runs the Sankofa Village Community Garden. The garden grows produce such as lettuce, watermelon, beets, carrots, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and Brussels sprouts, and educates young people about urban agriculture. It’s one of a number of groups listed in the guide, along with the Phipps Homegrown program, which installs raised vegetable gardens; Shiloh Farm; and the Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op.
“There are organizations that are doing work to provide fresh healthy food for the community, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Raqueeb Bey, founder of the Co-op.
Dora Walmsley, spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, said she is not aware of any other food guidebook that is neighborhood-specific, though other resources exist to connect needy people to food, such as the United Way 2-1-1 hotline.
“We see a real asset in having these kinds of guides available” to connect people to what can be a patchwork of different programs from food pantries to farmer’s markets to hunger relief organizations.