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GOOD Ideas for Cities: Marketing Healthy, Local Food

Hurricane Katrina decreased access to healthy food by more than half in New Orleans. How to get fresh local food into the hands of those who need it?


Getting healthy, affordable food to urban residents is a challenge in most major U.S. cities. In New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina not only affected the output from local farmland, it severed distribution channels, destroyed existing markets, and increased socioeconomic inequality. How can the city rebuild those food connections in an even stronger way, empowering those who need it most to choose fresh, locally grown produce? As part of GOOD Ideas for Cities New Orleans, a team created a campaign to showcase the diversity and availability of healthy foods.

As the team began their research, they knew the problem was two-fold: One challenge was increasing the visibility of local food purveyors like farmers, but the other challenge was to get that food into the hands of the right people, navigating more complicated issues around access and price. As they talked to people all along the distribution chain, they realized that local New Orleans produce has a branding problem: Unless eaters are purchasing from the farmer directly, they likely don't know where their produce is coming from—or even that most foods can be grown locally.

The team came up with an idea to co-brand all local produce as part of the "Grow NOLA" movement, using stickers and point-of-sale materials that would provide more information about the connection between eating locally and eating healthily. New Orleans has no shortage of pride for its city, so this kind of "hometown-homegrown" campaign would definitely see results when it comes to empowering residents to buy nutritious local foods.

Challenge: There is lack of affordable, accessible, and sustainable healthy food in New Orleans. Katrina decreased access to healthy food by more than 50 percent, and racial disparities in access have worsened. To address this problem, Grow Dat Youth Farm invests in the local network of growers, distributors, and professionals through an innovative method: developing the skills, leadership potential, and employment opportunities of New Orleans youth. How can we empower New Orleans youth to educate New Orleanians about healthy food, and help them get healthy food into the hands of those that need it most?

Urban Leaders: Jeanne Firthe, Grow Dat Youth Farm and Jeff Schwartz, Broad Community Connections

Creative Team: Ashley Braquet, Carey Clouse, David Burley, Harry Graham, Jakob Rosenzweig, Sarah Calandro, Susannah Burley, Zach Lamb, Aron Chang, Daniela Marx, Liz Beeson, Paul Richard, Amber Dawn, Brooke Butler, Jeff Gonzales, Kat Arnold, Will Miller

Read more about the idea at Neighborland.

Video by Andrew Larimer


GOOD Ideas for Cities pairs creative problem-solvers with real urban challenges proposed by civic leaders. To learn more visit Watch more videos of recent GOOD Ideas for Cities events, and if you'd like to talk about bringing the program to your city or school, email alissa[at]goodinc[dot]com or follow us at @IdeasforCities

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