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Natural Awakenings Indianapolis

Near Eastside Counters Food Desert Trend

Sep 03, 2015 06:08AM ● By Lanette Er

The closing of the remainder of Indianapolis’s Double 8 grocery stores has brought into the spotlight concerns about the nation’s growing trend of food deserts—urban areas in which it’s difficult to find affordable and healthy food, challenging low-income individuals and families that lack transportation options to obtain nutritious options.

Organizations on the Near Eastside are banding together with a variety of initiatives to successfully combat the food desert trend in a model of cooperation on which the rest of the city, and the entire country, should take note.

Growing Places Indy and the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention opened the Farm Stand and U-Pick Farm at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center Thursdays from early June through September from 4 to 7 p.m. Visitors are able to purchase inexpensive produce grown onsite and even pick some of their own.

On September 3, Celebrate Whole Heart Day will take place in conjunction with the Farm Stand and U-Pick Farm, allowing visitors an opportunity to take part in farm tours, yoga demonstrations and other activities to reduce stress.

The Near Eastside is also host to the TURN Festival, presented by the Paramount School of Excellence and Community Health Network. TURN is an annual celebration of Urban Sustainability taking place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on September 12 at Paramount School and Brookside Park.

This day-long event focuses on sustainable and healthier lifestyle practices with over 50 hands-on demonstrations, exhibits, children’s activities, music and food. Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of The Happiness Diet, kicks off Saturday’s activities with a presentation on how diet affects both physical and mental well-being. The bands Bonesetters and Bigfoot Yancey will headline on the main stage.

Right down the street from Paramount School is Pogue’s Run Grocer, a cooperative market that provides nutritious options at affordable prices by encouraging shoppers that can afford it to purchase memberships. Adding to their lineup of workshops and activities, Pogue’s will begin conducting a series of two-part classes based on the book Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown.

While in graduate school, Brown began exploring how well a person on SNAP assistance could actually eat. The result of her research and musings became the top cookbook ever funded through Kickstarter.

Pogue’s will bring Brown’s book to life at free classes for SNAP recipients held at Arsenal Technical High School and Gleaners Food Bank on dates and times to be announced. Nate Roberts, the general manager of Pogue’s, will encourage healthy eating on a budget through interactive cooking demonstrations using recipes from Brown’s book, field trips to nearby grocery stores and providing every participant with a copy of the book.

Pogue’s has also partnered with Slow Food Indy to bring Brown to Indianapolis for a VIP reception and book signing on September 27 at 6:30 p.m., as well as a speaking engagement that is free and open to the public in the Arsenal Technical High School Auditorium on September 28 at 6:00 p.m. Members of local aid organizations, SNAP recipients and foodies in general are encouraged to attend.

The Farm Stand, U-Pick Farm and Celebrate Whole Heart Day take place at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center at 727 N. Oriental St., Indianapolis. For more information, visit
The TURN Festival takes place at Paramount School of Excellence, 3020 Nowland Ave., Indianapolis. For more information, visit
For more information or to register for the Good and Cheap class series, visit Pogue’s Run Grocer at 2828 E. 10th St., Indianapolis, call 317-426-4963, email [email protected], or visit
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