Improving Access to Healthy Food
Compared to peers in more affluent neighborhoods, children in the District of Columbia’s Wards 7 and 8 are much more likely to experience food insecurity. With limited or unreliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, these children face not only malnutrition but toxic stress related to the family’s ongoing food struggles. When experienced prenatally and in the critical first few years of life, these factors can impair a child’s physical, mental and/or emotional development, often leading to a lasting impact on health, academic achievement and personal relationships.
Food insecurity is a complex problem requiring solutions that comprehensively address food access, quality, affordability and consumption habits. When the Bainum family generously donated 263 acres of Virginia farmland to the Foundation in late 2015, we were given a unique opportunity to directly address this problem. But this property, now known as the Bainum Foundation Farm, was just the beginning. Through our Food Security Initiative, we are supporting the creation of a sustainable, end-to-end solution to the District’s broken food system that will better address the needs of low-income children and families in Wards 7 and 8. We intend to serve as a microcosm of a sustainable, collaborative local food system, having impact in four key areas:
- Practicing regenerative agriculture on our Farm to increase the availability of fresh, healthy foods in underserved D.C. neighborhoods and to improve and preserve the land for future generations
- Educating children and families so they form and maintain healthy cooking and eating habits
- Establishing new pathways for local food into and within D.C. to benefit both the community and local farmers
- Supporting food-related workforce development to create economic opportunity, strengthen local purchasing power and provide job opportunities that drive food production and distribution
In partnership with Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, the Foundation spent 2017 creating a sustainable, regenerative approach for the Farm. We also supported Arcadia’s Mobile Market program (rolling farm stands stocked with healthy foods), which serves Wards 7 and 8.
In 2017, the Farm cultivated 3-1/2 acres of land with over 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables. During the growing season, the Farm produced and distributed approximately 22,000 lbs of fresh produce. A portion of the produce will supply Arcadia’s Mobile Markets, while some was shared through Community Foodworks to serve a WIC community-supported agriculture program and 23 early childhood centers in Wards 7 and 8.
Food Learning Locator
Powered by the Bainum Family Foundation, the Food Learning Locator is a one-stop resource for finding food-related community education and job training programs and organizations across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. Learn more and explore the map here.