Yeah! Super Mom! Super Dani! Yeah. Hey, my name is Danielle Dowdy, I am 27 years old, and I have two beautiful
kids. Food is very important. You cannot learn, you cannot think, you can’t do
anything on an empty stomach, so you just, you know, nothing if you don’t eat! I try
to grocery shopping twice a month because it can be very expensive. Some weeks we
can get whatever you want at the grocery store, and then some weeks it’s like, okay,
we have to wait! Not every month, but, some months it’s more hard than others. I had to pay rent, my whole check went to rent, and left
me probably with $20, and that has to get me to work, and yeah. It’s like- okay, what
am I gonna do? I mean… I try not to show that, okay, mommy is like, pinching pennies. I just smile like, “Hey! It’s okay!” You know? I hide it very well, the mommy in me and I’m not gonna say the pride but, I mean, as long as my kids happy, I
don’t, I could care less about how anything goes. Let’s make a heart! I realized some time ago ,with the
families that we are working with, and the children, that food is very, very
important to them. They enjoy the food, they are trying to figure out what is
for lunch, they even talk about it while they’re outside, you know- “wonder what
we’re having today??” and they go and they peek in the window to try to see what’s
getting set up on the table. I mean, they’re excited about coming in for
lunch. On Mondays, they are hungry, and they are
tired. And so, I try to make sure that our meals are hot, I try to make sure
that they’re colorful and, I try to make sure that things are created as such and
prepared as such that they can handle it themselves. Right now, we participate in the Childcare and Adult Food Program, so we
get reimbursed for our meals, but when I first started, we weren’t participating
in that program- and so food, it was an expense, a huge expense. And so, the things
that we were serving were not things- like oodles and noodles, and like a lot of
processed meats, canned foods. When I found out about the Childcare and Food
Adult Program, I signed up for it and it made a big difference that my bottom line,
as it relates to what we can buy for the school versus what we used to buy
for the school. Dragon’s floor was very dirty, so he got
his broom and he started to sweep. It’s really a relief to know that I can not
be stressed about the milk that they’re pouring down the sink. I mean, I encourage
them to drink it, and you have to give them certain amount and I, encourage them
to drink it, but we don’t make anybody drink or eat anything. So, some things
going to trash and I’m okay with saying, Okay, the didn’t want it. It is something that
I don’t think a lot of people are paying attention to, that kids have great
nutrition. You got to feed yourself good stuff in order to get good stuff. It’s not a matter of lack of food, it;s lack of
nutritious food that these families are facing. We talk about food deserts- places where
families have to do their grocery shopping at the corner store or at the
gas station, and it’s very limited in terms of what you can get that will
feed your family in a healthy way. Because we know that these children
experience weight bias and stigma when they’re in other environments, but when
they’re at both city fit, they’re all together- the kids, they say, “I like it
because they look like me.” They can be active without worrying about what their
body might look like when they’re running, or about people teasing them, or
laughing, and they can just have fun, which is the right of all children to be
able to do. A patient I had a couple weeks ago who
has pre-diabetes knows what he needs to pick in the school lunch line. He’s a
fourth grader, so he’s making these choices alone, and he walked through the
lunch line and put the vegetable and the protein on his plate, he got to the end
and the cafeteria employee who’s required to make sure they have all of
the nutrients said, “You’re missing your whole-grain,” and she took a Rice Krispies
treat from the shelf, and put it on his tray because it provides a whole-grain
serving. So, here we have a fourth grader who has a health condition, who’s been
instructed, knows what he needs to do, and is being thwarted by a policy that is
intended to make children healthier. So, we’re actually in some ways implementing
policies that are moving us backwards. This community is is marginalized. This
community has so many challenges, but it also has so many different attributes, and so many different gems, and so many different opportunities for success. We chose the zone that had the greatest need, the largest number of challenges,
the most profound challenges. Som East Durham or the EDC-I zone, as we
call it, is this 120-block, 1.2 square mile community back in East Thurmond. We
chose this zone because it had the highest rates of crime, teen pregnancy,
substance abuse, child abuse and neglect, had the highest poverty rat,e but it also
had the lowest-performing elementary school, middle school, and high school, and-
as we thought about our work, this was ground zero. Once we address access, how do we address
how folks use food ,and what some of the educational components are to how people
actually moved from, towards just using food to using it to support their
healthy lifestyle? So, the difference between us and the food pantry, most food pantries will give you a box of food, you don’t know what’s in there
until you get it, and you get home, and it’s usually not enough. And, because you
can only go, like, maybe likeonce a once a month, we decided that- if we can- we’re
gonna push to help people by supplying 50% of their grocery needs. That’s our goal. In our neighborhood, there’s not a lot of grocery stores that provide really healthy food . So it’s always been a struggle, when you’re on
food stamps, you’re always struggling that last two weeks of trying to make
ends meet and feed your family. So, this was the idea that we came up with. This is part of our work, where it’s incumbent upon us to just help families and kids
realize what success should look like, how they reach it, how they get it- food
has to play this integral role.

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Methew Wade

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