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