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Good Food for All in New Orleans, LA: Charmaine's Story

Charmaine participated in Good Food for All in New Orleans, Louisiana. She received 12 weeks of produce boxes that helped her and her son kick off their health journey together.

Charmaine from Good Food for All in New Orleans, LA looking at a produce box filled with fresh fruits and vegetables Charmaine was born and raised in New Orleans and considers herself an ‘uptown girl.’ “Even with all the storms, I always come back and we always end up in uptown,” said Charmaine. Her pride for and commitment to her community led her to serve as Health & Wellness Coordinator with Serve Louisiana, an AmeriCorps program.

In her role, she coordinates programs at the Harmony Oaks community center to get everyone - youth, adults, and seniors - engaged in activities that benefit mind and body. She works with partners like Urban Strategies, a nonprofit organization dedicated to community planning and development, to get the residents of Harmony Oaks the necessities and resources they need.

One of the programs she promoted and implemented with Urban Strategies was Partnership for a Healthier America’s Good Food for All program. The program provided New Orleans residents with boxes of fresh produce every week for 12 weeks with support from Top Box Foods, a local grocery delivery service that helps make healthy food affordable and accessible to all.

Charmaine from Good Food for All in New Orleans, LA smiling at her place of employment What impressed Charmaine the most about the program was the freshness and quality of produce. “It’s not commodity. It’s real food. It’s fresh food. It’s something that you would get out of the grocery store or any other store that sells fresh fruits and vegetables,” exclaimed Charmaine.

Good Food for All distributions happened during the holidays and participants were excited to see items like collard greens in the boxes that could be used for holiday meals. “The program greatly benefitted the residents, particularly with the distributions occurring right around the holidays,” said Charmaine. “Everybody wanted those collard greens to add that to their meal.”

Charmaine, who also participated in the program, greatly benefitted from the free produce boxes as well by jump starting her health and wellness journey with her 14 year old son. “It’s real important for me to eat more healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Charmaine. “I also need to try something new that’s going to benefit me but healthy eating is expensive. It’s extra expensive.”

Charmaine from Good Food for All in New Orleans, LA looking at a produce box filled with fresh fruits and vegetables. The program allowed Charmaine to try new vegetables that she ordinarily wouldn’t try. “I never tried zucchini,” explained Charmaine. “It was something new for me that I wouldn’t buy in the grocery store or add to my grocery list. The program was real beneficial for me in trying new things. It also gave me a break from the grocery list and the purchasing of something I probably couldn’t afford.”

Charmaine also had the opportunity to explore new and different ways of preparing vegetables that would be tasty for her and her son with a guest chef who came to the community center as part of the program. The box also provided Charmaine with the opportunity to connect with her teenage son about eating a healthier diet. “Now he’s seeing what I’ve been telling him the whole time,” said Charmaine. “You can’t eat like this. You have to eat better. He came to me this morning and said ‘I’m going to eat salads.’ I’ve been talking about this the entire time! I’m trying to do my part.”

Charmaine’s story is shared by so many of the more than 20,000 families we connected to fresh produce through the Good Food for All program in the last year. More than 18 million servings of fruits and vegetables reached families in 28 cities, and it’s just the beginning of PHA’s work to create long lasting change in partnership with communities around the country.

You can watch a 5 minute documentary about the impact that fresh produce can have on families that includes Charmaine’s story below.