Legacy of Food Access
For 118 years Flanner House Inc. has been a hub of community resilience and food justice. Going back to it’s inception Flanner House training programs have always emphasized the idea of self-help and community empowerment. The Food Program was one of the most memorable programs that reflected those objectives. The Food Program consisted of gardening, canning, nutritional and food distribution initiatives. A participant in the program could have a garden plot and worked with a trained agriculturist throughout the process to help them develop their skills. Community members could then preserve their food at a self-help cannery, which was equipped with production grade equipment. Along with the cultivation of organic produce, Flanner House also organized a food co-op for community members to source directly from those growing in the neighborhood. The Food Program provided cooking classes that taught about food preparation and nutrition, which not only helped residents balance a healthy diet but also gave them the skills to find job opportunities in the culinary or food service industry. These initiatives/enterprises that sustained our community for generations. We are seeking to rekindle the collective memories of resilience in our community to once again create the infrastructure for an equitable food system and economic opportunity.
F.E.E.D (Farming, Education, Employment, and Distribution) is designed to develop the knowledge, skills and opportunities for young men and women 16 to 24, who are currently not enrolled in school, unemployed, and engaged in the legal system; to help them become gainfully employed, adequately educated, economically stable and socially engaged within the growing sectors of the local food economy in Indianapolis.
Urban agriculture has quickly become a viable economic opportunity in low income communities across the nation. Urban farming stimulates economic growth from a neighborhood level up, creating jobs and providing food security for the low-income residents who need it the most. This approach to urban agriculture with our target population helps with reducing crime amongst youth and young adults 16-24 by providing job security, food security and a sense of pride and ownership in their local community. Most our participants are ex-offenders, with a negative reputation in our neighborhood and are now role models in our community. FEED’s approach to sustainable urban agriculture is rooted in our commitment to food justice and creating practical inroads for our participants into the future of the food system of Indianapolis.
A primary component of F.E.E.D is employment education and training. These trainings and education programs provide the knowledge base needed to ensure an encouraging learning environment for skill development in sustainable urban farming, culinary training and food distribution. Participants will be engaged in a combination of structured classroom instruction and hands-on experiential learning opportunities throughout the trainings and classes that are responsive to their education needs and experiences. We designed our curriculum to be sensitive to multiple learning styles as well as helping participants re-develop their self-esteem and confidence in their own academic capacities. Many job readiness programs help their clients obtain the skills and processes needed to get a job but most don’t have a comprehensive framework for helping them maintain their job long term. Our employment trainings are trauma-informed, culturally appropriate programs that help participants understand the disposition and ethic needed to maintain steady employment and build healthy interpersonal relationships both inside and outside of work.
Each participant in F.E.E.D is coming from a low-income background with direct personal experience with the criminal justice system. Everyday life of youth and young adults who are ex-offenders is a challenge that is exacerbated by all the legal services fees, probation, house arrest fees, child support (both current and back pay) and lack of access to basic needs. Understanding this, F.E.E.D provides a stipend to offset these financial challenges. F.E.E.D. enables us to demonstrate to our participants that we understand and take these barriers seriously while simultaneously pushing them to embrace all they can become.
F.E.E.D. has a comprehensive approach to educating, training and employing youth and young adults, to ensure they are both job and career ready. Our participants will not just receive the skills in growing, preparing, and processing food, but will also come full-circle in their experiences through food distribution and sales. The food distribution and sales training educates about supply chaining in community based and sustainable manner which gives participants the scope to see the entire food system and the economic opportunities within it for themselves.