My name is Castedy Castro, I’m sixteen, and I live in Washington Heights. As a WE ACT intern for a few months, I have learned so much from staff by participating in their activities.
For example, WE ACT was given the opportunity to partner with Corbin Hill in their farm shares, providing in-season freshly harvested produce to everyone. It meets the needs of low-income communities because their membership terms are flexible and inexpensive.
Each food share includes six to eight seasonal vegetables and fruits for only ten dollars a month with WE ACT. January’s food share included sweet potatoes, spinach, beets, carrots, kale and more. February’s food share included garlic, apples, pinto beans, cabbage, etc.
This year, I wanted to change my diet and eat more healthy foods. Corbin Hill’s food share has been very helpful because the food is healthy, local, affordable, and organic. I have to get creative in deciding how to use the monthly produce. This has helped my bad habit of relying on my mom to cook or ordering take-out myself. Thankfully, there are many recipes that can be created with the broad variety of fruits and vegetables provided. With this month’s food share I made a breakfast skillet using potatoes, eggs, ham, and red and green peppers. It was so filling that I saved the rest for lunch. For dinner, I made a chicken soup with carrots, garlic, cilantro, onions, potatoes, and a lot of hot sauce. If you have never put hot sauce in your soup you are missing out.
Low-income communities such as Northern Manhattan or the Bronx are often challenged with adopting or maintaining a healthy diet because of restricted access to healthy, affordable food.
According to The Food Empowerment Program, “studies have found that wealthy districts have three [times] as many supermarkets as poor ones do, that white neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and that grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection.” They limit the availability of high-quality fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, which negatively affects our health. Healthy food is more expensive, which causes people like me to be limited in options. We are inundated with fast food restaurants—often our only choice for inexpensive and readily available food. However, many times these options include added sugars, refined grains, and fats.
This is why the Corbin Hill Project is so important—because it provides low-income communities with better options.
In Manhattan there is a bodega at every corner—sometimes two on the same block—a Kennedy’s or Crown Chicken every five blocks, and a McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Dunkin’ Donuts every fifteen blocks. Fast food restaurants have higher density in low-income areas, and the availability and affordability of this unhealthy food lead to high obesity rates. Not only is Corbin Hill a source for high-quality fruits and vegetables, but it also supports our local economy. That means greater income for your neighbors! My experience with Corbin Hill was great because I saw what a good impact it had in my community. I also learned more about preparing my own food and the difference between certain vegetables. I would recommend Corbin Hill to anyone who wants to change their life around and try eating higher quality food.