Becoming a subscriber to Foodshed’s Fresh 5 program—a weekly distribution of fresh, seasonal produce, grown by the small farmers who make up the Foodshed cooperative—means you’re in for two surprises with every delivery. One is the produce itself: an ever-changing...
Healthy Day Partners
“The bottom line is, kids aren’t getting the healthy food they need,” said Mim Michelove, who co-founded Healthy Day Partners in 2012. “We have enough food to end hunger. What we need is the infrastructure to make sure more food goes where it is needed instead of into the landfill.”
What began as an effort to improve access to healthy, environmentally-friendly food options in public schools has evolved into a multi-faceted approach to improving access to healthy, locally grown food for communities throughout San Diego County. “For me, the evolution of Healthy Day Partners has been a personal journey that is powered by a sense of responsibility to grow a healthier future for everyone” said Michelove. “Equal access to healthy food should be considered a basic human right no matter your zip code or income level.”
Healthy Day Partners is founded on the belief that food should grow as close to our plates as possible to improve personal and environmental health. “When food is grown locally or sourced locally it follows the seasons. Seasonal food is designed perfectly for supporting our health,” she explained. “Food that is grown when and where it is needed is fresher, and often more nutritious. Since fresh, local food does not need to be extra firm for shipping or look perfect for market, there is more opportunity for diversity in the fruit and vegetable varieties we eat and the joy of trying something new.”
The Grab & Grow Gardens™ program was launched in response to COVID-19 last year as a long-term solution to food scarcity. “I want to help people grow their own food,” Michelove said. “Growing your own food increases food security while eliminating the need for packaging, storing, cooling and transporting food, significantly reducing use of nonrenewable resources and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.”
“Food deserts are also nursery deserts. So, for Grab and Grow Gardens™ we partnered with Nan Sterman (The host of a popular gardening show on PBS). Together, we created a simple kit to teach food insecure folks how to grow their own food. We provide mature organic, seasonally appropriate seedlings, the soil, pots, and growing instructions for free through hunger agencies.” Food insecure families are provided with at least two mature vegetable seedlings each week, along with bilingual instructions that teach recipients how to grow their own nutritious vegetables and herbs, even if they don’t have a yard. Throughout San Diego County, over 10,000 Grab & Grow Gardens have been distributed to children, seniors, active military, and families hit hardest by the pandemic.
Other Healthy Day Partners programs include the Healthy Communities Fruit Tree Program, a partner initiative with SDG&E. “Our shared goals are to address climate change, and support Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction, while alleviating food insecurity, strengthening and beautifying communities, and improving surrounding air, water and soil,” she explained of the program that plants fruit trees in community and school gardens in low income neighborhoods. “Our inaugural fruit tree planting was a special occasion. We planted 20 beautiful fruit trees along the entrance to the Tijuana River Valley Community Garden.”
Keeping food local also means supporting local farmers and community health, so Healthy Day Partners also offers a monthly Farm Box filled with a variety of colorful, seasonally appropriate, nutritious produce from local farms. And in 2021, Healthy Day Partners launched its newest initiative: The Homegrown Hunger Relief program. Through a mobile app, home gardeners can find one of Healthy Day’s neighborhood Donation Stations and donate their excess garden produce. Healthy Day Partners then collects all of the fresh produce and distributes it directly to local food pantries where it nourishes neighbors facing food scarcity.
In the next ten years, Healthy Day Partners aims to normalize growing food in public spaces. “I want people to grow their own food, even if it’s in a bucket. I want people to have a better understanding of what’s seasonal and available in their region. I want people to understand the impact our food choices have on the environment, and to see cities and neighborhoods dedicate more land toward growing food. I want to see a food system that addresses issues of racial injustice, and I want to see school lunches that actually reflect how much we value our children. I want to highlight women farmers and workers in the food system and support student activism,” Michelove said. “Creating equal access to healthy food and quality education, and supporting overall healthy communities for all people is simply good citizenship.”