Soul Food project getting help from city to address food insecurity in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett joined the Office of Public Health and Safety in touring the Soul Food Project, a nonprofit urban farm based in the Martindale Brightwood neighborhood that provides groceries to food-insecure areas.

The Soul Food Project was founded in 2017 as a way to find community-led solutions to food insecurity. With the OPHS Seed to Store program, funded through a grant from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Soul Food Project provides fresh produce directly to nearby grocery stores in areas with higher rates of food insecurity and poverty.

A 2020 study sponsored by the City of Indianapolis and the Indiana Minority Health Coalition found that nearly half of its respondents didn’t have the food they needed to prepare healthy meals at home. In addition to the Seed to Store Grant, OPHS provided technical support to other farms and small groceries to grow and expand their business and create long-term, sustainable solutions to food insecurity. They are also providing a $1,200 grant to buy land for a new greenhouse.

“I just wanted to grow food for my neighborhood,” said Danielle Guerin, the executive director for the Soul Food Project. “I grew up over here. I was aware of the challenge my family faced being in a food desert and knowing that having good quality food helps with so many different things. There’s a lot of health issues that come from not having food, and a lot of like poverty and things of that nature.”

Hogsett had commented how Guerin’s push for food education and tackling food insecurity is exactly what the Indianapolis community needs, and he is willing to support it in “every possible way.”

“We want to encourage urban farming, I mean there are, it would surprise the people of Indianapolis just how many urban farms exist,” Hogsett said. “This is a good example of an effort to address issues in the community, particularly the African American community, that Danielle and her board have been intentional and we want to respond intentionally as a city.”

Organizers for the Soul Food Project hope to expand and provide food year-round. They also want to incorporate more youth into the project by creating summer jobs on the farm where they can learn more about urban farming and food security. In fact, Guerin hopes to expand the project into Indianapolis homes.

“I really want all of us to have gardens in our own homes and actually be able to have that space and learn and understand where our food is coming from and how to grow it,” Guerin said.

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