Fair brings healthy food options to the community

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Community members learn about healthy food options from vendors at the fair. (Photo by Brynne Ramella)

Strolling through Alice’s Garden. (Photo by Brynne Ramella)

Ignoring a sudden spike in the temperature, Milwaukee residents braved the heat to attend the first Milwaukee Food Council Healthy Access Fair. More than 20 local organizations ranging from food producers to schools to health centers participated in the fair, located at Alice’s Garden, 21st and Garfield Ave.

The main purpose of the event was to introduce healthier food options to local residents. Monique Liston, co-chair of Milwaukee Food Council’s Healthy Food Access Work Group, said each of the organizations was required to have an interactive booth—they couldn’t simply hand out information to attendees. Liston believes it is more important for people to remember what they did than what they read.

She noted that the fair aims to highlight the fact that many people don’t have sufficient access to healthy food options or organizations.

“We want to try to tie the community to the organizations that are working for them,” Liston said. “Here, the organizations can see the community and the community can see what the organizations have to offer in terms of healthy food access.”

Some of the vendors scattered throughout the garden included That Salsa Lady, the Victory Garden Initiative and the Cultured Vegan. The Hunger Task Force provided games that taught people about healthy food options as they played.

Vendors such as the River West Co-op and Walnut Way Conservation Corp. did more than just bring information about healthy food—they also brought samples.

When the heat got to be too much, residents could take refuge in a covered shelter with picnic benches. They chatted among themselves and waited as Liston announced raffle winners.

David Johnson set up a booth at the fair to promote one of his projects, Cream City Gardens. It grows produce for Guest House of Milwaukee’s food program while training homeless individuals about gardening. Johnson said he supports events such as the Healthy Access Fair to “network with other folks and help get the word out. It’s a great way to meet neighbors that I normally don’t get a chance to meet.”

“Any time you can get people talking together face-to-face, that’s a great thing,” Johnson added. “It helps to build awareness about healthy lifestyles and educates people.”

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