Healthy Day Partners: Growing community resilience and addressing systemic inequities

Grab & Grow Gardens
Grab & Grow Gardens recipient family Yolanda Serra (mom), Maria Serra (big sister), Jason Rhoton (dad), Celia Serra (little sister)

(Ivy Gordon)

Just in time to mark the one-year anniversary of Healthy Day Partners’ Covid-19 response program, launched along with Nan Sterman Waterwise Gardener, Grab & Grow Gardens hit a substantial milestone of helping over 10,000 food-insecure families in San Diego County grow their own healthy food, according to a news release.

During the pandemic, food scarcity skyrocketed to 1 in 5 adults, and 1 in 3 kids who don’t know where their next meal will come from. Friends Mim Michelove and Nan Sterman found themselves brainstorming over an impassioned phone conversation about ways to help relieve the stresses of food supply uncertainty for so many in the community. The two gardening experts and activists had an idea that they quickly turned into a reality. Modeled after the old adage “give a person a fish and they eat for a day, teach a person to fish and they eat for a lifetime”, they created Grab & Grow Gardens small garden kits that include easy-to-follow growing instructions in English and Spanish and are geared toward helping those without land or easy access to healthy food to successfully grow nutritious food for themselves and their families in simple containers.

To help launch this program last March, Sterman swiftly rallied a small army of volunteers to help plant, grow, and package Grab & Grow Gardens kits each week while Michelove transformed her backyard and garage into work zones, and mapped out a production plan. Thanks to their vast and compassionate networks, the two community leaders received enough donated supplies to begin delivering their garden kits immediately. Sterman and Michelove reached out to and partnered with their colleagues running hunger relief agencies, schools in low income neighborhoods, and affordable housing facilities throughout San Diego County to ensure that those hit hardest by systemic inequities would receive the opportunity to grow their own long-term supply of healthy food.

“It has been gratifying to empower over 10,000 families to grow their own source of healthy food,” said Michelove, CEO/president of Healthy Day Partners, “to see the immense community support for providing these opportunities to our neighbors and alleviate some of the chronic health issues caused by systemic racial and class inequities.”

Jimbo’s grocery stores are featuring free Grab & Grow Gardens kits throughout the month of April as part of its Earth Month 2021 celebration. Jimbo’s events will be held on Fridays at 11 a.m. while supplies last at Jimbo’s following locations: April 9 at Carmel Valley; April 16 at Escondido; April 23 at 4S Ranch; and April 30 at Carlsbad.

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