How Wholesome Wave is Growing a Fresh Food Movement

This three-part series exploring food deserts is brought to you by GOOD with support from Naked Juice.

As an award-winning chef and restaurateur, Michel Nischan meets thousands of people every year who share his passion for supporting local and organic agriculture. But it wasn’t until his son was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes about 18 years ago that he made it his goal to change our food system by educating people about preventable diet-related diseases. To do so, Nischan founded the nonprofit organization Wholesome Wave.

With a mission to improve access to healthy, fresh, local and affordable food, the Connecticut-based Wholesome Wave strengthens relationships between local agriculture and underserved communities. With targeted programs aiming to help underserved communities in 28 states and the District of Columbia, the nonprofit works with more than 60 partners ranging from GrowNYC and The Food Project to Naked Juice and Kaiser Permanente

According to Nischan, there are many middle and lower middle class families across the United States that struggle to stay within a household budget, yet these families can still make a choice on whether to spend their money on the latest gadget or on healthy food for dinner. But for the communities that Wholesome Wave serves, many families don’t have the choice of putting healthy food on the table. “Just like every living American, people living in poverty want their children to have a better life than they did,” says Nischan. “They know they should be feeding them better, but they just can't afford to make that decision.”

With 47 million people—and growing— living in poverty, getting healthy food on the table can be a significant hardship. Wholesome Wave’s programs help reduce this hardship. It’s Double Value Coupon Program(DVCP) doubles the value of federal nutrition benefits at farmers’ markets, and its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) program, gives families fruit and vegetable prescriptions that are distributed by community healthcare providers and redeemed at farmers markets for fresh, locally grown produce. “When you put a preventative program in front of these families, they go at it with such gusto. It's amazing,” says Nischan.

In addition to DVCP and FVRx, Wholesome Wave has a new program known as Healthy Food Commerce Investments (HFCI). The program helps build regional food infrastructures so that local farms can distribute fresh produce to large institutions like hospitals and schools efficiently and reliably. And even though the Innovations Lab team at Wholesome Wave is always working on developing new programs, Nischan works to focus on their existing programs before expanding too quickly. “What we are doing is working on deepening and strengthening our programs in the communities that we are in,” he says.

As part of this commitment to strengthen its programs, Wholesome Wave recently teamed up with Naked Juice to bring 150,000 pounds worth of fresh produce to underserved communitiesthrough the Drink Good, Do Good program. They reached their goal in September, and to continue the momentum, have created the Drink Good, Raise Good initiative. By signing up participants can help give Wholesome Wave the means to continue bringing access to fresh fruits and vegetables to underserved communities.

“[Naked Juice has] been supportive through their philanthropy, but they've also really helped us in communities like Watts [in South L.A.], to reach out and log video of stories, especially from kids in these areas,” says Nischan. His favorite uncovered story is of a little girl whose favorite food is celery. “When you think of the face that's being painted on people who rely on food stamps and who live in poverty, about being totally hooked on Happy Meals and value meals. . .to have somebody come out and say that their favorite thing is celery, it flies in the face of all of that.”

Help spread the word against food deserts by pledging to a Thunderclap campaign to raise awareness of the problem together. .

This is part two of a three-part series exploring food deserts in America. Read the first part here.

Image via Flickr (cc) user North Charleston

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

Keep Reading Show less
via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

Keep Reading Show less
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less