The Central Valley of California, sometimes referred to as the “Appalachia of the West Coast” is home to many families that face food insecurity and hunger. Experience the “rural food desert” that exists in the Central Valley communities of San Joaquin County, mere minutes from the fertile farmland that feeds the rest of the country. The families who work these fields, however, face chronic food insecurity. On this tour, you will explore this nationally important food-producing region, and meet the coalition of grassroots organizations, agencies and youth groups working to combat rural food insecurity.
San Joaquin County is one of the most agriculturally rich regions in California producing a wide diversity of fruits and vegetables found on America’s tables, but this fresh produce is largely absent from neighborhood stores. In response to these conditions residents have developed community gardens, farm stands and farmers’ markets in their neighborhoods to increase accessibility of healthy and affordable produce. The youth in South Stockton have taken an active role in increasing access for their communities.
Central Valley Harvest, for instance, harvests fruit from neighborhood fruit trees to provide families and individuals in need with fresh, local fruit that is pesticide free and nutritious. Another group, the Ela B’s, is made up of teenage girls who came together to create a community garden in an effort to build sisterhood and promote a healthy lifestyle among girls. A third youth-led group is the Anti-Obesity Krew, which is working to create healthy food options in neighborhoods replete with stores selling sugared sodas, candy and chips, contributing to childhood obesity—particularly among black, Hispanic and Filipino communities.
- Drive through Central Contra Costa County on Highway 4: witness the very clear rural/urban interface and then drive along Delta levees through rich agricultural properties to Stockton.
- Attend a community panel discussion including representatives from the Stockton Emergency Foodbank, Puentes community gardens, Catholic Charities and local youth groups.
- Visit youth-driven projects such as the Ella B’s and the Anti-Obesity Krew garden projects.
- Speak with representatives from Central Valley Neighborhood Harvest and learn about their innovative, community-based food distribution model.
- The Greater Stockton Emergency Foodbank provides food to individuals and families in need and works closely with other organizations to assist families who are chronically in need of food through its mobile vending operation, job training, and community gardens managed by Stockton youth
- Puentes is a newly formed Community Garden Project that is designed to provide greater access to locally grown fruit and vegetables and foster economic self-sufficiency for local families.
- Central Valley Neighborhood Harvest is a community led organization that assists homeless and low income families with locally grown produce that would otherwise go to waste.
- Ella B’s is a grassroots organization that works with adolescent girls teaching them the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. A signature product of Ella B’s is its community garden, which is totally maintained by girls and their parents.
- Anti-Obesity Krew is a youth driven organization that works to give youth a voice; address the obesity crisis that exist in our community; and inform adults and elected officials to create solutions.
- UC Cooperative Extension houses the Master gardeners program where community members gain skills needed to start and maintain a garden
This trip is now closed. Please check back for future Food Justice Tours to the California Central Valley.
Bay Area Food Justice Tours (Nov. 4 – 5, 2011) are brought to you by CFSC in partnership with Food Sovereignty Tours, a project of Food First/the Institute for Food and Development Policy.
For more information, contact Tanya at email@example.com or by phone at (510) 654-4400, ext. 223