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Food Justice: Mid-City CAN eNews

Building Healthy Communities: City Heights
Food justice examines different forms of inequality in how we eat
Somali Bantu group wants to make City Heights a little bit greener
Mid-City CAN co-sponsors bill addressing preventable disease
Young people to document living in City Heights with video cameras
Building Healthy Communities work leads to honor for youth organizer
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Food justice examines different forms of inequality in how we eat

The Color of Food Food Justice seeks to address inequalities in the food system.
Those inequalities exist both in the distribution of food, which some advocates say creates famines and food insecurity despite a system that produces excesses of food in Western countries like the United States.
Inequalities also exist in wages in the food industry, as examined in the Applied Research Center's "The Color of Food" report. Authored by Yvonne Yen Liu and Dominique Apollon, it looks at how "People of color are often limited to low-wage jobs in the food industry." To read the full report, click here.
At a more local level, City Heights has about half of the full-service grocery stores it needs, according to a survey by Social Compact.
That determination was made by dividing the square footage occupied by full service grocers by the number of people they serve.
City Heights average is 1.64 square feet per person, according to the survey. A trade area is underserved when the grocery store space per person is less than 3 square feet.
To read the full report, click here.

Somali Bantu group wants to make
City Heights a little bit greener

City Heights residents who have a backyard they are tired of mowing and watering might consider turning it into garden space.
"We can help the community by growing food around the neighborhood," said Hamadi Jumale, president of the Somali Bantu Community Organization of San Diego.

The organization serves about 400 Bantus in San Diego. They are a minority group from Somalia who faced discrimination and violence that drove many to leave the country.
The organization promotes farming because it is a job that many recent immigrants have experience in, Jumale said. But the group's mission goes beyond that. It is to facilitate the resettlement of the Somali Bantu Community in the United States, especially in San Diego by providing programs for education, culture, and economic opportunity to promote self-sufficiency within the community. The group is part of the Mid-City CAN Food Justice Momentum Team. The California Endowment's Building Healthy Community Initiative is one source of funds for the group.
The organizations other activities include health advocacy, English classes, job training and employment services, housing assistance and other support services.
But farming is a natural fit for many residents that the group serves.
Many City Heights Bantus and other community members don't have other work, and they have language barriers that keep them from getting other jobs, Jumale said. Many also live in apartments where they don't have their own space to garden.
"And most of them they were farmers all their life, so they are farming in order to be self-employed, in order to make an income and in order to have fresh food in the community," he said.
The group used farmland in North County, but members want to work land in central San Diego so the farmers - and the food they produce - don't have to travel as far.
"A lot of our community, they don't drive, and they don't have any transportation," Jumale said. "It was difficult to transport the community there and do farming."
Because of changes in agriculture ordinances, that the Food Justice Momentum Team lobbied for at the San Diego City Council, larger-scale farming, having more farmer's markets and keeping some chickens and goats in urban areas like City Heights is now possible.
The missing ingredient for the Somali Bantu Community Organization of San Diego is a central plot of land.
Jumale explains his vision as a place where "everyone can walk by and see the community garden," he said. "They are able to go there and buy crops."
Youth outreach is a critical way the organization is working toward that vision and trying to create a community that is more proactive about health.
"In the last [few] months, we did one-on-one consulting with people about growing their own food, and the importance of healthy food and unhealthy food," Jumale said.
The group has 15 core youth members, including Hassani Ali, 19, and Megeney Maingula, 16. Ali was one of the first volunteers at the New Roots Community Farm in City Heights, he said. They have both been volunteering with the Somali Bantu Community Organization for about a year.
Megeney summed up why she stays involved with the program.
"It is important because there are a lot of refugees: Korean, Somali, all the people who migrated here," Megeney said. "They are used to farming, ... so being able to farm would be good for them. And for us. And there would be fresh vegetables."


Somali Bantu Community Organization

4034 43rd St., Suite C
(619) 342-6999
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Hamadi Jumale, president of the Somali Bantu Community Organization of San Diego, at City Heights Farmer's Market
From left, Hamadi Jumale, president of the Somali Bantu Community Organization of San Diego, Hassani Ali, a 19-year-old youth member, Sitey Berre, also a group member, and Megeney Maingula, a 16-year-old youth member, show the types of produce their farmers grow March 3 at the City Heights Farmers' Market.


Mid-City CAN co-sponsors bill addressing preventable disease

Chronic disease in California results in 75 percent of all deaths in the state, according to the Health in All Policies Task Force Report.

Mid-City CAN Coordinating Council is sponsoring a bill to try to reduce that number for underserved areas like City Heights
Women's Policy Institute Fellows created the bill to require the California Department of Public Health use the Healthy Communities Indicators Tool to address health disparities in the state.
The California Department of Public Health and the University of California, San Francisco, have created these tools for evidence-based policy decisions aimed at reducing the causes of preventable chronic disease.
Some of these causes include limited healthy food options and exposure to environmental toxins.

"Primary care is also part of the prevention equation," said Grace-Sonia Melanio, director of Communications and Health Policy at the Community Health Partnership and Women's Policy Institute Fellow. This bill is "not a cure-all, but it's a good first step in looking at health in a more comprehensive way."

Roger Hernández, D-West Covina, is the bill's author and Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, is co-author

Several committees must consider the bill starting this month before it can be heard on the California State Assembly floor.


Young people to document living
in City Heights with video cameras

The California Endowment and Mid-City CAN are giving young City Heights residents the opportunity to document their lives using hand-held video cameras.

"I am thrilled that City Heights has launched its young filmmaker program," wrote La Tanya Squires, media manager for The California Endowment, in an email. "I truly believe that the stories you tell through your youthful eyes about your communities will be one of the most effective tools you will have."

The young filmmakers include:

  • Phuc Nguyen - He is a 15-year-old Crawford Educational Complex student who speaks Vietnamese and whose interests include playing football.
  • Miriam Adam - She is a 14-year-old who attends Dehesa Charter High in Mission Valley and enjoys cooking.

The filmmakers are working on their first video, which will be about growing up in City Heights. They will also create videos that explore the work of Mid-City CAN momentum teams.

"I can't wait to experience what you create," Squires wrote.

Young filmmakers can still apply for the program. The deadline is now late March. Read full details by clicking here.

To see the Mid-City CAN YouTube channel where the young filmmakers will post their work, click here.

Youth filmmakers
Phuc Nguyen, 15, and Miriam Adam, 14,
are participating in The Building Healthy Communities young filmmakers project.

Building Healthy Communities work leads to honor for youth organizer

Mid-City CAN Community Youth Organizer Mark Tran was the representative for City Heights at the Born This Way Foundation launch Feb. 29 in Cambridge, Mass.
The California Endowment selected Mark Tran and 18 other youth leaders to attend the event to honor their participation in The California Endowment's 10-year, $1 billion Building Healthy Communities plan, wrote Robert K. Ross, M.D., President and CEO of The California Endowment, in his blog.

Building Healthy Communities is an effort to improve community health in 14 underserved neighborhoods across the state.
Tran shared the "success and challenges encountered by the Mid-City CAN Youth Council," he said.
Tran learned from the representatives of other communities, as well as attending the kick-off event for Lady Gaga's new foundation. The event also featured spiritual leader and medical doctor Deepak Chopra, media mogul Oprah Winfrey and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The California Endowment is a partner with the Born This Way Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and The Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. The groups are exploring "the best ways to reach youth and create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment," Ross wrote
The Born This Way Foundation is led by Lady Gaga's mother, Cynthia Germanotta.
"The foundation seeks to address issues like self-confidence, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development through research, education and advocacy," Ross wrote.

Learn more


Born Brave - Mark Tran, City Heights BHC, CA


The California Endowment

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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
and healthy community through collaboration, advocacy, and organizing.

Fiscal sponsor Mission Edge San Diego.