“Fresh Food is a Basic Human Right”

How an innovative nonprofit fights for justice in the heart of Kentucky’s food deserts

Manya Ronay

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In our sea of processed food and soaring chronic disease rates, it can be hard to believe that the tides will ever change. Yet change is coming, evident by the brave individuals and organizations across the country fighting for a healthier tomorrow. These are our lighthouses, shining their bright light to guide us through the daunting maze of food system reform.

One of these lighthouses is New Roots, a community-run nonprofit working to bring fresh food to those who need it the most.

New Roots operates out of Kentucky’s largest city, Louisville, which is plagued with food deserts. Over 120,000 Lousivillians suffer from food insecurity, meaning they lack access to adequate healthy food. Grocery stores across the city have been closing at startling rates, leaving residents with little choice but to rely on convenience stores and fast food to survive.

New Roots knew something had to change, and so they developed innovative pop-up markets to bring local produce into communities starved for fresh food.

“There is nothing more important than food,” New Roots Founder and Executive Director Karyn Moskowitz said. “We pop up in neighborhoods with no grocery stores nearby and no farmers markets. You’re never going to see this type of fresh produce in the neighborhood, so it’s pretty mind-blowing.”

The Fresh Stop Markets feature a bounty of fruits and vegetables grown by local family farmers. Tables overflow with a brilliant array of produce, from carrots and strawberries to kale and bok choy. Volunteer chefs conduct cooking demos while participants mingle and explore the various offerings.

“It’s like a cross between a family reunion and a fruit and vegetable flash mob,” Moskowitz said.

New Roots, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, leverages the power of cooperative economics to make Fresh Stop Markets a reality. Shareholders pool their resources (cash and SNAP benefits) on an…

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Manya Ronay

Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES®) and Internal Family Systems (IFS) practitioner specializing in food and health.