Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Food Deserts and Pop up Stores

When I was in college, I worked with a group of about 20 4-7 year-olds in my hometown. Most of these guys came from housing projects I had grown up fearing, but once there, I realized how much potential was in the world, and not being properly cultivated. This job fundamentally changed my worldview on how people live, and I still remember that for all the discussions of world poverty, there are people living in any city in the US that probably don't have heat, maybe don't have windows during the winter, and may have kids that don't understand how they fit in.

Some of my favorite kids were part of one family. Evelyn, who was 5 when I started working with her, had baby teeth that had rotted down to nubs. The next year, when I came back to find that Evelyn's new teeth had come in, I realized that she had a second chance. But she had some rough barriers she had to overcome, one of which was diet. At that time, she got lunches from the city meals program. Often they got pizza hot pockets. But this was her "good" meal. I remember her brothers and sisters coming in at 7:30 AM with their breakfast--prepackaged cotton candy.

When we talk about food deserts, we often think of the heavyset people sitting in front of us in line at a fast food joint. But they affect many more people. I love the idea that they mention in this article, because if you can make fruit and vegetables something that is considered cool and a status symbol, and can bring it to the people who need it, you can perhaps make the Evelyns of the world have a better chance at tomorrow, and a better chance at positively impacting the world. It's like trying to six sigma society.