Posted on April 28, 2015


1427725753By: Mary Grace Stoneking
Memphis is a beautiful city packed with parks, restaurants, and places of repose.  But for all that it brings to the table, the city ranks as number one in the nation for hunger, a prize that no metropolitan area hopes to claim as their own.  For the bluff city, this fact is sobering. Hunger in the city of Memphis is a very real problem.  For GrowMemphis, the empty stomachs of Memphians are precisely the reason why this group like is vital to the area.  GrowMemphis is a non-profit organization that aims to work with the communities of Memphis and Shelby County in order to promote a more sustainable local food system.  The organization emphasizes that a local food system must be fairer than our current one and provide economically viable and healthy options. GrowMemphis works to create this environment through three programmatic activities called the Garden Program, Double Green$ program, and Food Policy. The Garden Program involves giving the tools and skills required to garden to community members who desire to start a garden. The produce that is grown is then available for that community. The Double Green$ program is used at 5 Farmer’s Markets in Memphis; it matches up to ten dollars of SNAP used at farmers markets, and the Double Green$ may only be used for fresh produce. The Food Advisory Council For Memphis and Shelby County is a working group that strives to connect the public with governmental agencies, policy makers, and businesses in the community, along with providing a place to discuss and gain more information about the food system. The Food Advisory Council For Memphis and Shelby County also wishes to influence policy to make the food system more sustainable, healthy, and affordable.

1427725774GrowMemphis has helped me to realize a lot about myself and about this city I call home.  With each passing day, it seems I come home with some new tidbit of knowledge.  I’m constantly experiencing something new.  A few months ago, GrowMemphis hosted a film screening for National Food Day entitled Growing Cities. While the film itself proved to be insightful and endlessly informational, I felt that the most significant and enlightening element of the evening presented itself in the open discussion that took place after the film. One particular moment stood out strongly to me in this conversation as a woman asked what it would take to gain more awareness and activism in the food justice movement and the problems with our food system. After pondering for a moment, I responded that I felt it (unfortunately) takes a crisis to grab the attention of people. We are in a food crisis now, whether some admit it or not, and that is why people are coming together and more activism is happening. This problem is not new; it’s only new to the white middle class. For the black community in Memphis, this issue has been real for an extremely long time. A member of our GrowMemphis board shared this viewpoint with me and it really put things into perspective. I am a white, privileged, middle class woman who goes to a school filled with hundreds of similar people. I would like to think I recognize my privileged and that I am active in the Memphis community, that I know what is happening with our food system and the atrocities people have to deal with. In reality, I’m always looking at the situation from the perspective of someone who does not deal with the every day pressures associated with it; being unable to provide healthy food for my family and myself.

GrowMemphis brings me closer and closer to being able to break my privileged perspective. Trends like this will undoubtedly continue and reach more people in Memphis, and allow us to work together as a community to create a better food system, with which comes a better life in general.

Posted in: Lifestyle