By La Tanya V.H. DuBois
BEACH FRESH is an innovative Food Justice program designed to educate and empower young people to eat fresh, healthy food and to learn how to prepare those foods for themselves and their families
Innovating an In-person Food Program for Today’s World
During this unprecedented, tumultuous time in our world, we at RBAC have had to grapple with many uncertainties. We build community with black/brown youth, their families, and our Rainier Beach community on multiple levels that speak to Food Injustice, reducing community violence, food sustainability, Rainier Beach beautification projects and sooo much more. When news of the COVID-19 virus deaths began surging in Washington State, our team began planning, strategizing, innovating, and trying to figure out how we would move forward in this new era in which COVID-19 had plunged us all into.
Innovation-what does this look like
COVID 19 – Shelter in Place
Beach Fresh is an active whirlwind of young people, music, meeting, cutting, chopping, and dialogue. It is a time when our young people come together to prepare a meal with their own hands, where we take time to write down our ingredients, how to season, prepare, videotape, photograph, and break bread. This is how we build community around the table with healthy food. On March 23, 2020, for the first time in EVERYONE’s life EVERYTHING changed, and how we continue to grow and build together has as well.
Rolling up our sleeves
Prior to the shelter in place, our Leadership Team began having emergency meetings that seemed almost daily based on the constant flow of the information being given, while trying to find out as much as possible about the virus and dreading the moment that shelter in place call was made. Every program was motivated and inspired to move the organization ONLINE, and to think outside the box to make our programs continue to thrive, serve and move forward. This was easier said than done, as we were all plunged into the unknowns of ‘How do we make this work?’
The how-to, for me personally, wasn’t clear, as I am a new addition to the RBAC family. However, with the time I had spent getting to know the young people, coordinators, and other program information, I felt I had plenty to work with. I took what had been done prior to my arrival such as the weekly Thursday dinners, preparing healthy, transportable nutrition for the corner greeters weekly, and all of the intertwining work of food justice, waste prevention, health, and wellness, etc…..
Utilizing ALL of our tech resources, and knowing how to bring engaging, interactive recipes, and health and wellness into the foods we eat and are learning how to grow.
Buy-in from Young People
Getting the RBAC young people to buy into the online Beach Fresh, let alone every other program we have, has been a daunting task in the new era of COVID-19. There have been several approaches: making the work easy to access, applying incentives to projects that get accomplished, creating lessons based on common foods they may have in their homes, exploring the different cultures folks come from and sharing that through the lens of food, growing our own food and providing live videos of farming/gardening, providing opportunities for them to grow in their own homes based on what type of environment they may live in–say a small apartment with a window sill for herbs or an apartment/condo with windows and a patio/balcony space or a yard where they can grow plants. This is an evolution of how we work today in this new norm; we will continue innovating how we work with our team and how we continue our work to support the Rainier Beach community.
La Tanya V.H. DuBois