A GARDEN BLOOMS
Bringing healthy choices to the food desert.
Shawn Reul, Alex Wright, Sean Kinney, Cain Wills,
Nick Wright, and Amaya Banducci (back right)
help to plant inside a brand-new hoop house
built at Dayton Elementary in the spring.
WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE STIKA
PHOTO BY JACI GOODMAN
Some rural Nevada families have to drive an hour or more for fresh produce. They wind up in places where “food” comes from a local convenience store, where one apple may cost $1.75. Parts of Lyon and Storey counties are known as food deserts. In these areas, it is not only trying to purchase fresh food, but it also is a challenge to grow it. Healthy Communities Coalition — a private nonprofit for Mineral, Storey, and Lyon counties — is trying to change all that.
The coalition is comprised of hundreds of volunteers within several
task forces, youth leadership teams, and more than 40 state, tribal, local, county, and federal agencies. These groups focus on everything from improving the health of their communities to ending poverty and reducing alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
“The coalition has always worked with wellness by reducing poverty, as well as educating and preventing health problems,” says Quest Lakes, task force coordinator for the coalition. “The missing part was the food.”
Lakes has been hearing residents ask for healthy food options for seven of the eight years she has been with the coalition.
Cain Wills, Sean Kinney,
“People are hungry for good quality food and fresh, organic produce,” Lakes says.
Now, the coalition is responding to those pleas.
The group is working together with local schools and organic farmers, as well as 4H programs and other state agencies to help rural Nevadans gain access to nutritious food. They approach this on multiple fronts, including creating school gardens, community gardens, farmers’ markets, and offering incentives for businesses to carry more produce. They also have brought education to the forefront by offering training in organic gardening. And they even have used harvests from their community gardens in local soup kitchens.
Kaedon Bennert, Phebee Stuke, and
Group members are able to perform the work with some state and
federal funding. But, primarily, they rely upon local donations and volunteers.