Harvesting Health plans to promote health among inner city youths who have a history of obesity and/or diabetes by encouraging them to get active in a rural, agricultural setting while simultaneously benefiting the community. As an agreement between the city and local farmers, youths in College Station, Texas will volunteer their labor and exercise at nearby farms, and the city will gain a part of the farms’ produce at the end of the year. In this way, the young adults will be able to exercise in a cleaner environment and the city will have a cheap source of healthy food alternatives.
It had come to our attention that the nutritional needs of inner city youths in our area of Texas were not being met according to recommended standards, mainly due to the lack of choices with adequate nutritional value. Nutritious foods tend to cost more, and especially in these difficult times, it is common for families to choose cheaper but less healthy options, such as fast food meals. The lack of nutritious alternatives is striking, and is a leading cause of obesity. Having youths volunteer on neighboring farms not only provides them with necessary exercise, it also opens up a source of more wholesome foodstuffs for the community.
Once we came up with the idea of Harvesting Health, we presented it to the community so that they could have the chance to see the plan before it is implemented, adding their own thoughts and voicing concerns. Parents are the main driving force to have their children take advantage of this opportunity, so we thought it was important to get community input.
Our group members will serve as leaders while the project is set up, explaining details and helping with the transition into the new activities, such as arranging for transportation of the children from the city to the rural areas, and making sure that the foodstuffs make it back to the community after harvest. Monitoring the effects of the project will also be one of the tasks for the group members.
Evaluating the effects of the project will require the aid of city hall and spending time with the young adults both during the project, and when it is finished. The success of the project will also be measured by whether or not the community is satisfied with the outcome, and whether or not we are able to see measureable improvement in the health of the youths.
To ensure that the Harvesting Health mission is maintained, a committee will be set up that serves as a liaison between city hall and the farmers of the rural area. Surveys taken from the young adults will be used to determine how the project is received and what changes might be necessary. Once the committee is firmly established, expansion can occur as word of the activity gets circulated.
Because of the group’s efforts, people will have a chance to increase their fitness and gain agricultural experience, and the city will have access to fresh produce so as to reduce dependence on less nutritional options such as fast food.