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May 01

Connecting Residents to Food at Sunnyslope Manor [Photo Essay]

Posted on May 1, 2017 at 4:09 PM by Sonia Singh

The MCDPH Food Systems Team received a request to provide technical assistance for a large, onsite garden at Sunnyslope Manor. As a Food Systems Coordinator on our team, I met with residents, toured the garden and talked about overall community needs related to nutrition, physical activity and food access. 

The need:

Here's what they needed:

  • Garden technical assistance
  • Increased resident participation in gardening
  • Nutrition classes
  • Information about food assistance programs such as SNAP, CSFP and TEFAP
  • Opportunities for organized physical activity and outings
  • Transportation to access available community resources

In collaboration with Desert Mission Food Bank, we found a long list of support resources in the community that Sunnyslope Manor residents didn't know about! To name a few: 

  • Desert Mission Food bank delivers CSFP boxes monthly to Sunnyslope Manor. 
  • Residents are eligible to receive an additional food box each month at the food bank through TEFAP.  
  • Desert Mission Food Bank has an onsite garden and regular garden classes.  
  • Sunnyslope Senior/Community Center offers congregant meals, outings, nutrition and physical activity classes to seniors. 
  • The Valley Metro SMART Circulator provides free transportation throughout the Sunnyslope area, and stops directly in front of Sunnyslope Manor.

The solution:

Let's show them what's around.

Photo: Planting corn and beans in the garden

Corn and melons are up! Planting beans in the 4th of July garden. The beans will climb the corn stalks, and the melons will provide shade to help keep the ground cool and the weeds at bay. All will be harvested and served to the residents at a Harvest Party at the end of June.

Photo: Food growing on the vine at the garden

Photo: Food growing on the vine at the garden

Tomatoes and peppers are looking great!  Residents can garden together in the large community plots, or they may grow their own fruits and vegetables individually assigned raised beds. Each gardener has their own style and growing tricks!

Photo: Flyer promoting the tour

Resident gardeners helped do outreach to invite all residents to ride the Circulator to Desert Mission Food Bank.

Photo: Residents and staff getting off the circulator

Arriving at the Food Bank! The Circulator driver was very helpful and shared more information about available resources. He also let us know how to catch the Circulator back home. 

Photo: Picking out fresh produce at the food bank

Sunnyslope Manor resident and garden leader Ed “shopping” for fresh fruits and vegetables at the food bank. These beautiful squash were donated by local farmer Frank Martin, of Crooked Sky Farms. Every resident can receive a monthly food box through Desert Mission Food Bank’s emergency food program. The market model enables clients to shop and select their food, including shelf stable items, bread and fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Photo: Visiting the garden at Desert Mission Food Bank

Touring the 4th Street Market Garden at Desert Mission Food Bank. Sunnyslope Manor residents provided and received gardening tips!

Photo: Resident reviewing nutrition materials in a mini-class at the food bank

Learning about the benefits of eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Residents went inside the food bank after visiting the garden to enjoy the cool comfort and gain new knowledge about nutrition. 

And then:

The trip was such a success that residents decided they wanted to do a “Circulator Tour” to discover all of the other places they access by riding the SMART Circulator.  MCDPH Food Systems Team accompanied the residents and Support Service Coordinator on the tour, which included a stop at the Senior Center where the Director provided a pre-arranged tour of the facility.  Each resident learned how to sign up to become a member, what programming is available (lunches, exercise classes, art classes, outings, community education programs).

Residents who formerly did not know about the resources have visited the food bank monthly to pick up their emergency food boxes. In addition, four residents reported having joined the Senior Center because of the tour and information provided, and now use the Circulator for transportation to the Center and to other destinations such as the grocery store, post office and library.   

Post by Allison Parisi, Food Systems Coordinator in the Office of Community Health Innovations. Find out more about the team's work.

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