More honors for Sac Library system

The "Read & Feed" garden at Colonial Heights Library
The “Read & Feed” garden at Colonial Heights Library

This time it’s Colonial Heights branch in the spotlight, being named by the Urban Libraries Council as one of the Top 10 Innovators of 2013. Specifically, the branch was recognized for “Sustainability” for its “Read & Feed Garden”:

The library and garden are located in an underprivileged South Sacramento neighborhood where one quarter of the population is at the poverty level and seven out of ten neighborhood children are eligible for free or reduced-cost lunches. The area is referred to as a “food desert” because of the lack of access to fresh produce.

I have been to some events in the library, and enjoyed some fresh fruit harvested there. It’s a really special thing.

I’m not sure I buy the whole “food desert” thing, though. I guess I would need to know specifically what area we’re talking about; there is a Foods Co at Fruitridge and Stockton, a Bel Air tucked away on Fruitridge, and several ethnic groceries around the area. I’m not sure it is much farther from groceries than, say, Alkali Flat or River Park. Do we assume that people living in “underprivileged” areas are less skilled at getting around than someone living next to Glenn Hall Park?

Not to mention, the City of Sacramento’s “big box ordinance” has to have prevented some possible grocery options in those areas (though much of the area is in that County carve-out, which is a question/topic for another day).

Bottom line: the phrase creeps me out. Is it just me?

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

3 thoughts on “More honors for Sac Library system”

  1. Regarding the food desert thing, CoolDMZ, I think you have to pay attention to the second and third definition.

    Financial access is difficult if the consumer lacks the money to buy healthy foods (generally more expensive, calorie for calorie, than less nutritious, sugary, and fatty ‘junk foods’) or if the shopper cannot afford the bus fare to remote shops selling fresh foods. This limits individuals to cheaper local fast food outlets. Other forms of financial access barriers come in the forms of inability to afford storage space for food, or, for the very poor, homelessness, or living in temporary accommodations that do not offer good cooking facilities.
    The consumer’s mental attitude or knowledge about nutrition and food preparation can be major barriers limiting access to fresh produce and other healthy food choices. Consumers may lack cooking knowledge or have the idea that eating a healthy diet is not important.

    Ron Finley mentions this in his awesome TED video, A guerilla gardener in South Central LA.


  2. You know, part of why I have trouble with the phrase because I don’t know what the implied cause is. But the guerrilla gardener video seems more concerned with just fixing the problem, which makes sense. “The problem is the solution.” Inspiring just to cut through all of it.

    I’m still stuck on defining it, I guess. Comparing calories seems weird–calorie-wise, how many apples equal a Big Mac? Looks like 6, and let’s assume 6 apples costs more than a Big Mac (debatable I think–Foods Co has peaches at 2 lbs/$1 right now)… but that’s 6 days worth of apples isn’t it? 🙂


  3. I hear you, CoolDMZ. You also *want* to exchange burgers for apples though, right?

    Interesting timing as I saw a few billboards today for the CalFresh program.

    “The CalFresh Program helps to improve the health and well-being of qualified households and individuals by providing them a means to meet their nutritional needs.”

    On a side note, check out the web address for the program.

    Am I being overly snarky to think “/foodstamps/” was chosen intentionally?

    Also on the overly snarky side, check out how many languages the application is in.


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