Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ten years after Katrina : A message from Sankofa’s Executive Director

Ten years after the devastation from the Hurricane Katrina, and the Ninth Ward still has very limited access to fresh, whole produce. As a resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, I founded Sankofa to focus on holistic wellness in our community—starting with healthy food options for preventive health.

Sankofa began in 2008 as the Sankofa Marketplace, a monthly cultural gathering that served as a community hub to support revitalization of the Lower Ninth Ward after its devastation from Hurricane Katrina. Building on seven years of community investment, Sankofa Community Development Corporation is creating a healthy food hub in the Lower Ninth Ward. On Saturday, August 29, we welcomed volunteers from the Louisiana Office of Community Development- Disaster Recovery Unit, Girl Trek, Tulane University School of Architecture, and University of South Alabama to join us during the City of New Orleans K-10 Day of Service.

We began the construction of our open air produce stand at 5029 St Claude Ave ( at corner of Forstall and St Claude), site of the  Sankofa's Fresh Stop Market and Gardens. Volunteers also planted vegetables at Sankofa's three other Sankofa Garden sites in the Ninth Ward area. 

At Sankofa, we partner with community-based organizations throughout the Greater New Orleans area to bring fresh produce to health clinics, faith-based spaces, schools, and senior citizen centers. Utilizing our mobile markets, where we bring more than 1000 pounds of fresh produce monthly to the community.  The new Sankofa Fresh Stop Market will operate as a permanent open air green market to further our mission: to provide the local neighborhood with access to healthy, fresh produce in the Lower Ninth Ward. Our mobile market presently reaches customers weekly at its Lower Ninth Ward Senior Center stop at the Sanchez Copelin Byrd Multipurpose Center.

The Sankofa Fresh Stop Market will open to the public on October 24, 2015, in partnership with National Food Day. Our plan is to offer seasonal fruits and vegetables grown in the Sankofa Gardens and also healthy food options from local farmers and food distributors.

The Sankofa Fresh Stop Market project was awarded first place by the “Lots of Progress Competition” by Propeller Innovation Center during October 2014 and is a partner of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority.

The grand opening of the Sankofa Fresh Stop Market will feature a variety of activities around healthy food and sustainable land use, including cooking and shopping classes by Second Harvest, youth-led cooking demonstrations by LSU Ag Center, rain gardens and green infrastructure for homes by Global Green. Additionally, there will be nutrition education presentations by the Xavier University College of Pharmacy. The Sankofa permanent produce stand will be an expansion of our Market and Garden programs, to the development of a healthy food hub in the Lower Ninth Ward

- Rashida Ferdinand, Executive Director Sankofa 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sankofa Mobile Market Visits ARISE Academy for the Sankofa HEAL Fair

Last Thursday May 14, 2015 we hosted a health fair for Arise Academy Elementary School.

For this event we decided it was time to roll in our Mobile Market with activities for the HEAL students to interact with fresh fruits and vegetables!

 The students played a fruit and veggie trivia game to be introduced and more engaged with the Market produce. Each child received a card containing a fun fact about a particular vegetable.  For example, one of the cards stated : "Which fruit can take up to 3 years to grow?"  The students then guessed the answer by selecting one of the fruits on the Mobile Market truck.
In case you want to know, the correct answer is pineapple ! After completing the activity, we all tasted the fruits and vegetables.

Another fun activity at the HEAL Fair was smoothie-making booth! The HEAL students measured various ingredients to prepare a smoothie with papaya, pineapple, banana and kale! Many of the 'smoothie makers' said they liked their smoothies and would try making it a home with their parents.

A dancing station was also at the HEAL Fair. Students learned the steps to the dance created for Let’s Move, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama's to combat the childhood obesity epidemic and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Overall, everyone had lots of fun and learned easy things that we can all do to lead a healthier life.
Go ahead and take a minute to look at this video that captures some of our fun moments at the HEAL Fair!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

HEAL students cooked for seniors in the garden!

Last Tuesday we had the pleasure to host the Lower 9th Ward Senior Douglass Learning Garden, our school garden at ARISE Academy. Given the occasion, the HEAL Project students prepared something special for the seniors who visited.

Seniors and students after the presentation
 It all started with a MyPlate presentation led by 6 HEAL students from Ms. Dorothy Parker’s 5th -6th grade class. The students presented on the importance of eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, especially those with dark colors.

Students presenting MyPlate to seniors
After the Myplate presentation, the students conducted a two-course healthy snack cooking demonstration. For the first course, they prepared cucumber sandwiches with “a twist”.  The students used cucumbers in place of sandwich bread to create a healthy and easy, low-carb snack. The cucumber sandwiches were filled with Swiss cheese and lean turkey, and they were finished with mustard and horseradish sauce.  

Townsend serving a cucumber sandwich to Ms.Anne
For the second course, HEAL students prepared a three-ingredient strawberry frozen yogurt treat.
After blending vanilla Greek yogurt and frozen strawberries, the students topped it off with fresh bananas for a hint of sweetness!

Students serving the strawberry frozen yogurt

Michael serving strawberry frozen yogurt 

This was definitely just the first of many other activities that will bring the two generations of elders and children together. It was beautiful to see our students take leadership of a health education demonstration with their community elders. They demonstrated mutual respect and acknowledgment of the seniors and one another during their presentation.

When asked what he liked most about the event, Michael, one of our students said, “My favorite part of the event today was serving the people.”

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Updates School Garden!

We want to update you on the happenings at our school garden!

Remember the tomatoes kids transplanted back in March? Well, we staked them yesterday because they are getting big!

Staked tomatoes

 Also our arbor was finished!! We want to thank Mr. Raymond for his wonderful work! As you can see in the pictures below our pumpkin and cantaloupe plants are growing fast.  They look healthy and absolutely beautiful!

Beautiful Arbor! 

A couple of weeks ago Kindergarteners planted radishes around the pumpkins and the cantaloupes to keep bad bugs away! Have you heard of companion planting? It's a really great method used in organic gardening. 
Kindergarteners watering radishes after planting  

This week our HEAL students thinned the radishes to make sure they grow healthy and strong! 

One of our HEAL student thinning the radishes 

We have also started to work in our butterfly garden. Flowers are blooming! 

We will keep you posted with more updates soon.

In the meantime we always welcome volunteers to help us carry out this work. If you know anyone interested send them our way! Click here for more information. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

HEAL students teach kindergarteners how to keep their organs healthy!

This school year we taught HEAL students not only to eat well, but how their bodies (and organs) are affected by what they eat and do!

In order to teach this in an effective, interactive way, we helped each student to create a life size model of their bodies (The kids loved it and were really engaged with this activity!) 

Over a series of classes the students learned about the major organs : heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, brain, liver! Did you know ?  The average adult heart beats 72 times a minute and 100,000 times a day! That's a lot of beating! 

One of the models is currently displayed in the school cafeteria for everyone to see and learn!
Also, our older HEAL students participated in the fun by giving presentations on organs to the kindergarteners.

Each one of the HEAL students had the opportunity to present on a particular organ's functions and threats. Following the presentation, HEAL students asked questions to the kindergarteners who were happy to participate!

This was a great interactive activity and the first time our HEAL students presented health topics in their school. Developing leadership skills and helping children gain the confidence to develop their own voice is one of Sankofa’s goals with the HEAL program! We will definitely hold more health presentations in the near future!

Fun Facts about Organs
·      Every day, kidneys filter the body’s total blood supply about 12 times per hour.
·      The small intestine is actually much longer than the large intestine.
·      By the age of eighteen your brain stops growing
·      The average adult heart beats 2.5 billion times during a lifetime.