BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Food insecurity in Baton Rouge has been slowly climbing as high prices and low availability hit the markets. Local organizations are looking for ways to minimize the hardship with new community resources.
Residents at the East Baton Rouge Parish Housing Authority now have access to freshly grown vegetables right in their backyards.
“I have some mustard greens, I have some celery and some green beans. The best organic vegetables ever homegrown,” said resident Gladys Young.
Young was excited to be one of the first to try out the new community garden and fridge, which provides free homegrown food to residents.
“If you don’t have anything in your house you can at least come to the garden and get your stuff to go home and prepare,” she explained.
Community ‘Free-generators’ and gardens like this have been popping up more often across Baton Rouge in high-poverty areas.
“Food insecurity, COVID really exposed a lot of our vulnerabilities with the supply chain, with inflation and the amount of the increased costs of what food is costing now. They have the ability to directly impact what we’re doing right now by growing our own food, and so we want investments in our families,” said East Baton Rouge Parish Louisiana Authority CEO J. Wesley Daniels.
“It’s not going away, but we have to do our part. Little by little, community by community, resident by resident, to combat food insecurity,” said Healthy Blue Medicaid Territory Marketing Manager Kathy Victorian.
From peppers to lettuce and more, communities will have a hand in growing and maintaining these plants.
“Whatever needs to be done. I do it because I feel like if all my other residents would just blend in and help,” said Young.
People will have the opportunity to reap what they sow and blossom into seasoned gardeners.
“As they gather the yield, as they cut some of their own, not on the flowers, but also the vegetables they all bring up to the community refrigerators,” said Daniels.
Once a month residents will have the opportunity to learn more about harvesting in workshops.
“Having the refrigeration to store the produce that’s grown there. That gives us hope. That gives us love, especially around this time of the year,” added Victorian.
The impact goes beyond the crops and harvest.
“The kids are already out here before the parents, the parent comes out after they come home from work. And so you can see this is a communal effort, right? An opportunity also for our older and the elderly population,” said Young.
The new garden came right on time for people to make some of their favorite dishes for Thanksgiving.