Bakersfield Food RevolutionThu 20 Oct 2011
Story by Kim Weins
Bakersfield is a place of extreme contrasts. Located in Kern County, which ranked 4th of 58 counties in California for value of agricultural products, Bakersfield’s economy revolves around agriculture. At the same time, our community suffers from an obesity and chronic disease problem of epic proportions.
Our community provides the state, and the world, with fruit, nuts, dairy products and vegetables and yet we are also famous for having one of the bleakest “food landscapes”. In our county there are almost five times as many fast food restaurants and convenience stores as supermarkets and produce vendors and in Bakersfield itself, the Retail Food Environment Index (RFEI) is 6.63!
We have a state of the art Edible Schoolyard garden at one of our local elementary schools and yet over 60% of the teens and adults in our community are overweight or obese. We rank as the worst county for heart disease as the cause of death and near the bottom when it comes to diabetes as the cause of death.
Out of this dichotomy emerged a group of people committed to improving the health of our community by changing the way we eat.
Bakersfield Food Revolution has a small core group of people, including teachers, moms & a Integrative Certified Health Coach, with a variety of skills who are reaching out to businesses, schools, governmental groups and individuals to improve school lunch offerings, support local farmer’s markets and healthy food providers, and educate our population on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Through the Bakersfield Food Revolution we want to educate people on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of fresh, wholesome foods and our goals include:
• Connecting kids and parents who are interested, and finding likeminded community members to join the group & help start making changes
• Working with local school districts, starting with just one, to see if they are open to let us speak to parents about the importance of good food, we hope that by starting with parents we might be able to work together to change the school lunch program
• Connecting with local growers to see if they would be willing to come to some meetings (once we have a few more committed to the cause), and educate us on what we have available here
• Show moms how easy homemade baby food is to make, and how much CHEAPER and better for the baby it can be
• Helping families learn to cook, make healthy decisions, and show that cooking is not hard-once you are not scared of it and that the better products you use-the more you will get out of it.
We use the website to communicate with each other, share information and coordinate our planned activities. We have had one meeting so far and our second community event is scheduled for mid-October where we will be meeting at a local natural foods store and deli and discussing how we can support the Food Revolution. The local natural foods store & deli where we are hosting our meeting will be handing out flyers etc for us and our meetings.
About the authors & core Bakersfield Food Revolution group: Kim Weins is a retired science teacher from the Panama Buena Vista school district, who previously taught her students about the importance of nutrition prior to retiring. Other core members of the group include: Sheila, a current science teacher at the same district, Helen, a mom & inside sales person for McJunkin Redman Corp who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes when pregnant with her second child and has since become very passionate about food and keeping her children healthy & Kellie, a Integrative Certified Health Coach.
Images: From top left clockwise: The first 4 images are taken from www.susanreep.com dated 3/16/10, the field image is taken from the Bakersfield Chamber of commerce website and the final photo is of Helen's daugther making eggs!
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