Written by Melissa Vatterott, Food and Farm Coordinator
Background on St. Louis Earth Day
St. Louis Earth Day is best known for its annual Earth Day Festival in May, which attracts 30-40,000 attendees annually to learn about the environment and enjoy food and activities. However, St. Louis Earth Day works year-round in a variety of other projects and events. For example, St. Louis Earth Day provides “Take Action” grants to organizations around St. Louis, including funding projects pertaining to sustainable agriculture, community gardening, local food access at food pantries and local churches. You can see a list of the 2015 recipients of the “Take Action” grants here.
St. Louis Earth Day’s 2015 Symposium: Livable Communities
On June 3rd, St. Louis Earth Day hosted one of its annual events, the St. Louis Earth Day Symposium, with this year’s focus on Livable Communities. St. Louis Earth Day’s explains a “livable community” as one with a balance between elements including a healthy human and natural environment, a sustainable economy, an actively engaged populace, and an equitable society. This all-day event had speakers discussing local food, food access, sustainable agriculture, and water conservation, among other topics.
This year, MCE had the opportunity to present a poster at the Earth Day Symposium. Melissa Vatterott, MCE’s Food and Farm Coordinator, presented about the interactions between limited food production, limited access, and poor health outcomes around St. Louis. Her poster also explained MCE efforts to build a Local Food Policy Coalition, whose four goals are:
1. Increase presence of local food in larger markets (i.e. grocery stores, schools, etc.) by connecting small farmers with new markets.
2. Increase healthy, local food access, particularly in underserved communities.
3. Increase farmer education and support for best agricultural practices, especially those to facilitate environmental stewardship.
4. Educate individuals, especially youth, about food identification, gardening, nutrition, and cooking.
MCE is honored to have had this opportunity to present at St. Louis Earth Day Symposium. Several Local Food Heroes were also at the event – here are two we would like to highlight:
Afternoon Keynote Speaker: Amelia Pape
Amelia Pape is the founder of My Street Grocery, a mobile grocer that operates community markets year-round out of a mobile grocery trolley in the greater Portland area. Its mission is to improve fresh food access and build community by introducing customers to choices, resources, and relationships that celebrate the joy of food. Amelia serves as the Whole Foods Food Access Coordinator, and brought My Street Grocery into Whole Foods Market in 2013 to enhance its scope and impact. Amelia works with Whole Foods Market’s nonprofit organization, the Whole Cities Foundation, to improve access to nutritious food, while overseeing and developing local, regional, and national food access initiatives. As one of the keynote speakers at the St. Louis Earth Day Symposium this year, Amelia shared her story of Molly the Trolly, and her belief in “Food is Community.”
Afternoon Speaker: Jeremy Goss
Their Food Story: The St. Louis MetroMarket is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit mobile farmers’ market that will restore access to healthy, affordable food to St. Louis City food deserts. This retrofitted city bus will bridge physical, financial, and educational barriers in order to have the greatest potential towards increasing the supply and demand for healthy foods in these communities. The St. Louis MetroMarket will source produce, meat, dairy, and staple goods from local farmers and community gardens and will sell directly in and to the communities that need them them most.
A Person Behind the Project: As president and co-founder of St. Louis MetroMarket, Jeremy Goss spoke about the launch of this non-profit mobile farmers market that’s anticipated for the end of this summer 2015. St. Louis MetroMarket will seek to restore access to healthy foods in all St. Louis area food deserts by converting a donated Metro Transit bus into a grocery store on wheels. In addition to providing direct access to fresh, healthy, affordable produce, the mobile market will also advocate around issues like food justice, hunger, and health. Through a partnership with SLU’s Nutrition and Dietetics department, St. Louis MetroMart will provide curbside nutrition education and weekly cooking demos. Jeremy is a champion for food justice and together with his co-founders Colin Dowling and Tej Azad, is working to eliminate food deserts here in St. Louis. He is determined to be an advocate on the behalf of these communities on issues related to food justice, hunger, and health.
Organization Website:St. Louis MetroMarket