Have you ever heard of a food desert? Food deserts are prevalent in pockets of Miami where low-income families have little access to affordable food sites and grocery stores that carry nutritious food. Adults in these areas either do not have a car or share cars. Families are not in walking distance from any major grocery stores and are left with limited healthy options. The small grocery stores, corner markets, and gas station convenience stores carry very few fresh fruits and vegetables.
Miami-Dade County’s Title 1 schools have many students who come from low-income families and receive free or reduced lunch. These schools offer free breakfast daily, as well. Enrolled students often depend on these two meals that come from the school site because they go home to empty homes where caregivers work difficult hours.
Mrs. Rodriguez, a teacher in Little Haiti, describes her experience working with students in a food desert area:
“Although school breakfast is provided, students eat an assortment of chips or candy they bought at local convenience stores, either on their walk to or from school, as a meal. This lack of healthy meals results in students being hungry or sleepy which affects their learning throughout the day. The food program intervention is valuable to students. It allows students to have more options. Most meals are quick and easy for them. It also has healthy snacks. This helps students to make better food choices. This program introduces students to some foods that they may not be familiar with but will end up liking.”
Caring for Miami’s Backpack program is our measure of intervention as we target these areas of high need in an intentional and strategic way. As the school year has just begun, don’t miss out on a chance to change the lives of many by providing food to a child in need. Join in on our monthly packings at Christ Fellowship campuses where you can pack dozens of meals for hungry children, sign up for weekly deliveries to school sites in these food deserts, or be a part of the Backpack Program by praying for these families! In whatever way you choose to serve, know you are making a difference!