Just a few weeks ago, we attended a graduation ceremony in North Philadelphia. It was a small gathering--19 proud women and men who were accompanied by their family members, busily snapping photos and clapping as each graduate’s name was called.
These weren’t high school or college students. These accomplished graduates were part of the inaugural group of members of our Green Light Pantry, and they had just completed a one-year series of nutrition classes.
We created the Green Light Pantry program over a year ago to serve as a new model for what food pantries could look like here in Philadelphia and beyond. Unlike traditional food pantries, Green Light Pantries provide only healthy foods to members--fresh fruits and vegetables; whole grains like brown rice and whole wheat pasta; lean proteins such as fish, chicken and beans; and low-fat dairy products, including yogurt and skim milk.
To further support families in making healthier choices, we also give them biweekly nutrition classes, medical screenings and other free services.
On that graduation day a few weeks ago, we were thrilled to honor the 19 women and men who had taken time out of their busy lives to complete a year’s worth of nutrition classes as part of our Green Light Pantry program. Among them were working mothers and fathers as well as grandparents who had made a commitment to helping their families lead healthier, more active lives.
That includes parents like Leonella, a mother of three teen boys. She works full time and attends college classes in the evening, so it’s a daily challenge to afford and prepare balanced meals. “My three boys have all struggled with their weight, because it can be really tough to afford healthy foods,” she said. "We used to eat a lot of mac and cheese, instant noodles, or other foods that were cheap and filling. The Green Light Pantry allows us to eat healthier foods, and my kids love it. They love trying new fruits and vegetables.”
Stories like Leonella’s (and those of all the graduates we honored a few weeks ago) wouldn’t be possible without supporters like you.
We know that we have much work ahead to ensure all families in our region have access to the healthy food they need, but reaching this milestone assures us that we’re on the right track.
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