It is estimated that nearly 24 million Americans live in a food desert. And although Denver is consistently ranked as one of the healthiest cities in the nation, there are still parts of Denver that are considered food deserts. The community of Westwood in Southwest Denver is one such community. Westwood is 80% Latino (60% of whom are first generation immigrants), the average household income in Westwood is less than half the Denver average, and 38% of its children are obsese (compared to the state average of 27%). In order to get to the nearest grocery store, residents have to travel more than 1.5 miles (over an hour on the bus), meaning many resident rely on convience stores. As you can imagine, there is little access to healthy, fresh produce, and if there is, it is often times too expensive.
In 2009 Re:Vision started working with the residents of Westwood to grow their own solution to living in a food desert. The results? More than 600 gardens in homes throughout the neighborhood, thousands of class participants at La Cocina, and close to 300 members at the Westwood Food Co-op (the only food co-op in the country located in a food desert and owned by members of a low-income community!). The statistics speak for themselves, but what is most impressive is that this change has been led entirely by the community. Re:Vision provides the training and the tools, but our community-based Promotora model has change the approach to solving issues of food insecurity and food sustainability. Participants in our programs report eating more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, saving on average $30 a week on their grocery bill. They also report being more active, and being more involved with their families and the community because of their gardens. Re:Vision simply plants the seeds, and with the attention and work of the community, our idea is begining to take root.
Help Westwood bloom!. With your support, Re:Vision can plant more seeds (literally and otherwise) to create a thriving, resilient community.