Childhood Obesity Prevention and Education
The Health Equity Alliance of Tallahassee
The Tallahassee Food Network (TFN) evolved from efforts of the Health Equity Alliance of Tallahassee (HEAT), a partnership with the University of Florida Department of Anthropology and Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council comprised of individuals, organizations and agencies in Tallahassee. HEAT's mission explain and eliminate the causes of social inequalities in health by bridging the gaps between research and action. HEAT envisions policy change that leads to equal health for all. From the early efforts of HEAT a variety of subcommittees evolved to combat health inequality, including the Policy Council, Heart Health, Food Environment; Childhood Obesity Prevention Education (COPE) Coalition which have all developed extensive partnerships that continue to expand.
The Tallahassee Food Council
The Tallahassee Food Council focuses on the absence of healthy food and the correlation of food deserts and obesity in specific communities. Council meetings invite experienced guests to present their observations, experiences and work related to food. The Tallahassee Food Council was one such subcommittee expansion.
The Tallahassee Community Engagement Workshops
In partnership with the Leon County Health Department, the Greater Frenchtown Neighborhood Revitalization Council, Cultural Arts & Natural Design International (CANDI) and Project FOOD, the Tallahassee Community Engagement Workshops inspired neighborhood discussions about the neighborhood food environment and its link to childhood obesity. From these conversations, the group ascertained a more comprehensive view of the challenges, solutions, strategies and ideas for a healthier food environment. Participants identified that the foremost challenge to healthier eating was a need for education and awareness regarding food, food's link to health, and how to obtain/prepare healthy, fresh food. Strategies to ameliorate the challenge included farmers markets, urban agriculture, community gardens and SNAP accessible produce within existing stores and market places. These workshops provided a new platform from which to build a movement; the community was calling for action.
Local, Regional, National and Global Connections
A broader local, national and global look at food and food concerns helps us gain an understanding of the issues other communities face; together we can build a global network of people and communities, who are linked, connected and working for equal and equitable food systems. Our dedication to understanding the broader scope of food led representatives of Tallahassee neighborhoods to attend and participate in the American Association of Community Gardens Conference in Atlanta, Georgia and in the Community Food Security Conference in New Orleans in 2010. These experiences helped us to connect our experiences, dreams and visions to the global experience. From these experiences evolved the Tallahassee Food Network (TFN). TFN meetings began at the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council office located in the historic Frenchtown neighborhood of Tallahassee.
Will Allen in Tallahassee
In 2011, TFN partnered with Florida A&M University to plan and arrange for Will Allen to come to Tallahassee to offer an Urban Agriculture Capacity Building Workshop. Responding to the call from FAMU's Small Farm's Program to engage the larger community in the planning for Will Allen’s visit to Tallahassee, the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council, the Damayan Garden Project, Project FOOD, Cultural Arts Natural Design International, Tallahassee Food Gardens, Tallahassee Sustainability Group, Native Nurseries and Sowing Seeds Sewing Comfort Ministry met to develop, logistics, and programming specifics.
Everyday the need and value for the TFN becomes clearer. TFN organized "Stories from the Food Movement" at the Library (February 2010), public education at black and white churches, Subcommittee representatives from the Childhood Obesity Prevention Education (COPE) Coalition, New Leaf, Jake Gaither, Lincoln Neighborhood Senior Center, Bethel Towers and the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Health Ministries. TFN's efforts go beyond the individual events in which we have been integral components; the Network acts as a connecting factor that allows people to interact and share the responsibility of making sure that everyone has affordable access to the quality and quantity food necessary for healthy growth and development. TFN is growing and anyone who wants to be a part of this energy is encouraged to connect and to link to TFN efforts to improve food conditions for everyone.