Washington, D.C. has 94 school gardens and 46 farmers’ markets. Yet childhood obesity rates are well above the national average; and 1 in 8 District residents struggle to afford fresh fruit or vegetables.
In 2009, Lauren Shweder Biel and Sarah Bernardi set out to find solutions to providing healthy, sustainable and affordable nutrition to all. Together they founded DC Greens, an organization connecting communities to healthy food in the nation’s capital. D.C. Greens runs the D.C. Farm to School Network which supports school garden programs in 8 wards of the city working with over 50 teachers, providing training, resources and best practices in the area of garden-based education. They create experiential learning opportunities making healthy, local produce familiar to students so that they are eager to try new fruits and vegetables when they appear in the cafeteria.
Lauren and Sarah believe that everyone should have access to healthy food and are working to bridge the gaps in D.C.’s local food systems. They are truly food ambassadors for at-risk communities. D.C. Greens’ food access programs increase fruit and vegetable consumption among vulnerable populations, while supporting the local farm economy. Their incentive programs allow low-income community members to receive twice the value of their federal benefits. Most recently, DC Greens partnered with Upper Cardozo Unity Health Clinic establishing a Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program which aims to combat obesity by providing prescriptions for fruit and vegetables which provide free access to healthy food at five D.C. farmers’ markets in the district.