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Fighting food insecurity, changing eating habits in Tallahassee's Southside

Making strides against chronic health problems
Posted at 8:00 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 20:00:41-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Putting the old saying "teach a man to fish and you'll feed him for a lifetime" into motion, how several groups in the community are coming together to make a difference.

"To really break down barriers in a community where people don't have a lot of resources," said Melissa Dancer, the Director of Health Promotion at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. They're partnering with Florida A&M University and the City of Tallahassee to connect the dots for a healthier future.

The Supervisor of the City of Tallahassee's Neighborhood Services, Leann Watts-Williams, says they found people were getting sick more often on the Southside and they needed to do something about it.

"Chronic illnesses are very prominent on the Southside of Tallahassee."

To address the problem, they're targeting nutrition with the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Rx Program. A class on how to buy, cook and create a habit of eating healthy, fresh food by learning new recipes, techniques, and twists on traditional meal prep.

Watts-Williams added this will "help to improve their illness and enhance their quality of life."

The class is to get people from the purchasing point at the store to something nutritious they can cook. This class is happening alongside the Southside Farmers Market. Both meeting the high priority need that TMH, FAMU,and the city identified on the Southside, getting access to food.

Dancer said, "some of the larger grocery store chains shut down in that area and it just is difficult to get access to affordable fresh food."

The agencies are partnering with schools in the community and other organizations to meet people where they are. A community-wide momentum that Dancer says may change the future of food insecurity.

"This is what the community has wanted to see and I think that makes a huge difference."

The program and farmer's market will happen twice a month through December at the Walker-Ford Community Center. Visit their website for more.