This woman was struggling to find fresh food. She never expected this solution.

How do you get healthy food on the table when you can't find any?

This is a question that Ortilia Lujan Flores had grappled with many times before.

She wanted affordable, nutritious food, but lived in a neighborhood that didn’t have an accessible grocery store.


Flores couldn't drive, which limited the few food options she had. "There was nowhere to go," she explains.

All images via Upworthy.

Flores isn't the only one that's struggled with this problem — 41 million Americans don't have consistent access to nutritious food.

But when she moved to Denver's Elyria-Swansea neighborhood, she discovered a nonprofit that made all the difference.

This nonprofit is called The GrowHaus, and it takes a community-led approach to tackling food insecurity by giving neighbors the tools they need to improve their access food.

The GrowHaus knew that their community's challenges went far beyond a lack of grocery stores. They looked at everything from local food production to food waste and education, and they found that the issues residents were struggling with all seemed to be connected.

Food rescue is changing this neighborhood

They recover and deliver nutritious food to community members that need it most. For free. 🙌

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, August 30, 2018

To address the food crisis in their community, then, they needed to think bigger.

That's why The GrowHaus partnered with Denver Food Rescue, an organization that rescues food from donors (like stores and restaurants). Volunteers travel by bike and deliver that rescued food to The GrowHaus, where volunteers then distribute it to local families — ensuring it can be eaten rather than thrown away.

And that's no small potatoes. According to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, there's great potential to expand food rescue in Denver.

The NRDC found that under optimal conditions, 4,232 tons of additional food could be rescued each year — equivalent to 7.1 million meals — from retail, institutional and restaurant locations within the city. When organizations like The GrowHaus take advantage of rescued food, everybody wins.

But that was just the beginning of their efforts. The GrowHaus also wanted to ensure that residents like Flores could actually access fresh food more conveniently, too.

So they established a neighborhood market, Mercado de al Lado, which has fresh produce as well as meat and dairy products, most of which is organic and/or local. The market uses a tiered pricing system to ensure that the food is accessible to everyone, including SNAP recipients.

"I saw that they sell organic, nutritious things," Flores explains. She was surprised to see this kind of food in her neighborhood, especially after struggling to find it for so long.

The GrowHaus also has a solution for residents, like Flores, who can't drive to the market. They offer a weekly food box filled with fresh fruits, vegetables, and dry goods sourced from as many local farms as possible and deliver right to their doors at affordable prices.

"It has what people need," Flores says. "Vegetables, potatoes, sometimes they bring eggs. So, things that nourish us."

If you're not a cooking aficionado, The GrowHaus also offers weekly bilingual cooking classes. Every week, volunteer nutritionists teach residents about the importance of healthy eating and how to prepare different foods.

After sharing a meal together, participants get to fill a box with produce to take home from The GrowHaus' free food pantry. By sharing unsold produce from their market, The Growhaus helps to ensure the sustainability of their own food system.

The GrowHaus is even growing their own food and empowering other residents to do the same.

They now have multiple urban farms, all of which focus on sustainability and education.

There's a hydroponics farm, which grows plants in a nutrient solution or in eco-friendly perlite or gravel instead of soil. The farm produces around 1,200 heads of leafy greens per week but manages to use 90% less water than a conventional farm.

They also have a seedling nursery to help residents establish their own gardens. And for community members still working on their green thumbs, there's a Growasis — a permaculture farm. Here, residents can also learn more about sustainable practices, like how to compost or even raise chickens.

"They are always looking at what we need," Flores explains.

Tackling food insecurity isn't easy. But thanks to organizations like The GrowHaus, people like Flores are able to create their own solutions.

Community members in Elyria-Swansea are now growing their own food, educating one another about nutrition, feeding their neighbors, and best of all, ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table, no matter who they are.

Up to 40% of food is wasted in the United States, yet millions of people are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Redistributing just 15% of the food that is currently discarded could feed 25 million people.

And The GrowHaus hopes that by modeling that impact, they'll show what is possible for communities around the country.

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot – or will not.

Most Shared
True
The Rockefeller Foundation
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular