Anne Hamersky 3/20/15

Re: Urban farming in the Bronx: November 2014

Creative Storytelling for Clif Bar & Company’s “In Good Company” Social Media Channels

As program’s visual storyteller, I guided a large multi-regional team from twenty sustainably-minded companies to tell the story of its volunteer work at an urban farm in the Bronx.I worked collaboratively with team members and neighborhood residents to craft stories about personal and community transformation. I guided participants to use their smart phones to take photos, hashtag, and upload to project social media channels. My work with the program resulted in 95% more audience engagement, furthering the project mission to affect change at the intersection of corporate social responsibility, hands-on service learning, and food justice activism.

"The whole concept of environmental justice is new to me. To live in an area that's been unduly burdened with power plants, waste dumps, no access to nature? How can the community flourish and be healthy? We need to spread the industrial outputs around for people's sake and for the environment, too. It's too much undue stress in one place." –Chelsea, Clif Bar & Co

"I'm from the opposite end of the spectrum. I grew up on a 350 acre farm in rural Wisconsin and yes, I've been to Chicago, but it's nowhere near as dense as the Bronx. I figure one of these apartment complexes, sitting on around one acre of land, has more people than all of LaCrosse. This food desert thing is unbelievable. I always thought there were tons of stores in New York, but I haven't seen a supermarket in this neighborhood yet.” -Jason, Organic Valley

"Helping others literally changes your brain chemistry. You notice more of the good in the world -- the kids, the smiles, the beauty. I'm not exactly sure what I'll do when I go back home -- every town has people in need of a helping hand. I know I want to be part of The Good. It spreads out further than the borders of your town. I'm kind of surprised by how simple it is." –Darren, King Arthur Flour

I was raised here in the South Bronx, ever since I was eleven when I came to this country from Puerto Rico. In the 70s, a lot of buildings in this neighborhood were set on fire by landlords who thought they weren't getting enough in rent. Some of them got caught, some not. Bronx Green-Up came in and started planting gardens in all these vacant lots, cleaning up the bricks and debris. I went to many of Ursula and Sara's pruning classes at the NY Botanical Garden and now, I've worked in all two hundred something of the community farms in the Bronx.” –Carlos, South Bronx ­­­­­­Community Member


"When I first met Talib, I asked, 'How do you like your garden?' and he said, 'It's not really mine -- you know it's all about The We and The Us. The Community, that's what keeps life going.' I'm going to take that mindset back with me to Berkeley." –Sarah, Amy’s Kitchen

 We were honored to work side by side all week with Sara, the unstoppable Community Horticulturist for Bronx Green-Up, our nonprofit partner. So much knowledge, so much heart, so much Swiss chard! – Sara, Bronx Green-Up

 "This is beyond everything we expected. It's a brand new garden -- uplifting the whole community. People stop outside on the sidewalk and see the changes. They 'Oooo' and 'Ahhhh' and we say 'Come in and put your hands in the dirt!' You folks? You can take away the inspiration. You can tell the story that you worked like heck, shoveling dirt in the rain in New York City. Us? We plan, we dream, and we thank you, thank you, thank you."


-Bobby, Taqwa Community Farm











Event – February 24 – Women in Leadership: Dynamic Career Paths in the Food Movement


nofruitJoin four women warriors who have fought Big Food with policy initiatives, defying gender and racial stereotypes in both the public and private sectors. Their work has strengthened the good food movement, and all have established successful careers despite the odds stacked against them. This interactive panel will share experiences and encourage food movement job seekers to tackle the challenges of pushing for a more progressive food systems agenda.


Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University. A pioneer in food politics and the author of numerous books, she will discuss her experience and knowledge in the academic and government sectors, the vast changes she has witnessed over the years, and share advice for students about opportunities in the food movement.

Michele Simon is a public health lawyer and president of Eat Drink Politics, a corporate watchdog consulting firm. She has been writing about the politics of food since 1996 and her book, Appetite for Profit, was published in 2006. She also offers legal guidance to small food companies with Foscolo and Handel, the Food Law Firm. She will discuss the role of lawyers and policy experts in the food movement and the need for advocates to get more political.

Nina F. Ichikawa is a writer, social justice advocate, and food policy expert who will discuss the “whitewashed history” of the food movement, her policy work with the USDA, and her vision for the Berkeley Food Institute where she has just been appointed policy director. Her writings on food policy and Asian American food, farmers, and retailers have been published in Amerasia Journal, Civil Eats, Al-Jazeera America and NBC News, as well as in “Eating Asian America”.

Moderator: Haven Bourque founded HavenBMedia to bring communications expertise to food system change. Her group develops communications strategies, trains spokespersons, and teaches social media skills for diverse organizations ranging from prestigious non-profits to small businesses, national corporations and community activists working to reform food systems around health and wellness, social justice and environmental conservation.

When: Tuesday February 24, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Impact Hub Oakland (Omi Gallery) 2323 Broadway, Oakland (donations at door welcome)
RSVPs: 2/19 update: sorry but this event is over capacity!



Allow me to paint a picture about the SFUSD School Meals Program. Let’s begin with hunger. Rumbling tummies, distracted bodies, cranky spirits. Too many students wake up, scramble to get to school and inevitably skip breakfast. They arrive hungry, and we know they stay hungry during the day too: only 57% of those who qualify for free/reduced school meals actually eat lunch.

To the extent that they do eat during the school day, they tend toward junk food, off campus. They go off campus because the alternative is to spend their entire lunch period waiting for a free meal. Overburdened lunch lines are a huge issue.

In the background to all of this: about 1/3 of SFUSD students are overweight or obese; and just 10% of Latino and African American students meet fitness standards, according to Fitnessgram data. So these kids fall into the awful situation of being both stuffed and starved. Hungry and overweight.

This hunger makes it awfully hard to focus and learn, to make the most out of school. One of SFUSD’s main goals as an institution is to close the achievement gap for these most vulnerable students. Improving our school meals program - taking those kids from being hungry to sated - would go a long way toward helping make that goal a reality.

The good news is that the District agrees! In fact, SFUSD wants to radically transform its school meals programs. It has spent the past several years taking a magnifying glass to every aspect of its food and nutrition operations. They brought in a far improved vendor in January 2013, offering healthier and higher quality food. More recently, it developed a concrete vision that will radically transform the notion of school meals.

The vision offers concrete plans ranging from family style-meals for elementary school students to space renovation to more locally sourced and locally cooked meals. This isn’t just talk. Roosevelt Middle School unveiled a newly redesigned cafeteria on October 22nd. Willie L. Brown, Jr. Middle School, in August. Breakfast and supper programs are expanding. But these are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

If implemented, these transformative ideas will mean that the District will serve three square meals a day, every day to those kids who now learn with rumbling bellies. Culture shift will happen. Implementing the recommendations embodied in this vision will mean that our school meals programs leap from the 20th to the 21st century.

All of this takes additional funding! These changes cannot happen with the Student Nutrition Department’s current resources, which already run in the red.

The passage of Prop E would be a gamechanger for San Francisco’s low-income youth. It is an unparalleled opportunity to create a healthier food environment for our community. Revenue from this tax is slated to directly support food and nutrition programs – among other things – at SFUSD. Revenue from this tax IS the direct link between SFUSD’s school food vision remaining just a vision OR becoming a reality. Revenues from the soda tax would not only go a long way toward revamping the school meal program, they could also support food education programs that lost their funding in recent years.

All of this investment in improving school food would profoundly touch the lives of tens of thousands of San Francisco youth, who deserve to live and go to school in a community where making the healthy food choice is the easy choice.

After all, even great schools and great teachers can’t teach hungry kids.

Lena Brook is mom to two SFUSD students, and a member of the SFUSD Food and Fitness Advisory Committee. A longtime advocate in the good food movement, she is a public-interest communications consultant with HavenBMedia in Oakland.