Archive for the ‘Access to Healty Foods’ Category

Food Desert in Skyway: “the place that Seattle forgot about”

by Ramata Diebate, Got Green Social Media Communications Team

After saving the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), Got Green is taking the next step to ensure accessibility to fresh produce which will provide families in Southeast Seattle with a tool to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Got Green’s Food Access Team wants to make sure that Skyway residents have access to what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now calls MyPlate or the “healthy plate” which replaced the food pyramid in 2011. We have been surveying residents in Skyway, which is a food desert that lacks a grocery store or produce stand within reasonable traveling distance.

Our findings have been illuminating, as many Skyway residents state,

“We feel ignored. Skyway is the place that Seattle forgot about.”

This is a situation that Walmart is trying to use to its advantage in a pretty aggressive way, and we have that Walmart has plans to try and “break into” Skyway. Anyone that is familiar with the way this major retailer uses its economic prowess to gain access to neighborhoods that may not be interested in accepting it or would not benefit from its presence knows what we are talking about.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines “food desert” as a lower-income area without access to a supermarket or large grocery store.  A supermarket is defined as a retailer with annual sales of 2 million and it must contain all the traditional food departments including fresh meat and produce, dairy products, dry and packaged goods and frozen foods.

This requirement can be met only by large national grocery stores. A smaller local grocery or produce stand does not count under the USDA guideline, but I disagree. Although this is a lovely definition for a corporate giant waiting to move into a food desert, we feel that a community-based produce stand or co-op can provide fresh, locally grown produce, leave a smaller environmental footprint, and serve as a community gathering place.

Walmart is trying to use Skyway’s food desert status to gain access to Skyway. However, Walmart’s way of supplying produce which it will sell in Skyway may add to the problem. By driving down costs of production every step of the way, it increases the odds that fruits and vegetables will be produced in ways that favor their speedy growth with chemicals. Walmart’s distribution model favors using very few suppliers and its definition of “locally grown produce” is quite misleading when considering Walmart’s business plan.  Walmart plans to have only 9% of its produce sales constitute of “locally grown produce.” And this is in all of the Walmart stores combined – not in each retail store. Obviously if they use this type of propaganda to gain access to Skyway, the majority of the produce it sells will still be imported from other states or from established suppliers with which it has a relationship.

This is why we do not see Walmart as the answer. Obviously, a produce stand or farmer’s markets would make more sense to guarantee locally grown, healthy produce. 

Studies have shown that in areas where there is access to fresh produce, obesity rates go down and overall health improves. Neighborhood environment influences health and a holistic approach to ensuring access to fresh produce will take into consideration that fresh produce is locally grown in an environmentally responsible way and in a way that takes into consideration a neighborhoods overall health.

 Join Got Green on our Skyway Food Desert Campaign!

We are going out to the Skyway community on  Saturday April 7, to survey residents.

We need volunteers!!!

Please email  or call (206) 290-5136 for more info and how to get involved!




The Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program MADE IT into the House Budget!

The House Budget INCLUDES funding for WIC FMNP!!!!! The news we had received this morning was that it wasn’t in the budget but after all of the confusion, we have GREAT NEWS! It has not been cut and it remains funded at the level from last year’s budget.

Our advocacy is working!!

Holding our legislators accountable in Olympia! HERE WE ARE…

By Violet Lavatai, Food Access Team Member

On February 14, 2012 Women in Green took a second trip to Olympia to join Faith Action Now (FAN) in fighting for some of the programs that Governor Gregoire’s new budget proposals have put on the chopping block for the regular sessions. One of the programs that the Women in Green’s Food Access Team is fighting for is the Farmers Market Nutritional Program (FMNP). The proposed cut is $100,000—the amount the state pays to administer the program. This small cut will force the state to lose nearly $900,000 in Federal food dollars.

Cutting $100,000 and losing almost $1 million dollars is bad math!

The program provides $20 each month to low-income families already in the WIC program (Women Infants & Children) and $40 to those in the Senior Farmers Market Nutritional Program to buy locally-grown fresh produce and fruits at the Farmers Market. They come in the form of vouchers and are given every quarter.

On our first trip we took with us 230 signed petitions to save FMNP, packets with information about the program, and who we are. As we ventured out on our second trip we were armed with 50 more signatures. We went back to make sure that our representatives were fighting for this program and to remind them again of how important it is to save! All of our legislators in SE Seattle (37th District) made firm commitments to fight to save this program. Please call and thank them – and ask them to keep the pressure on:

Senator Adam Kline – 360-786-7944 –

Representative Eric Pettigrew360-786-7838 –

Representative Sharon T. Santos – 360-786-7944 –

**Call or email to say thank you and let them know how important FMNP is to you, your family, or your community**

We went to talk to each of them about some of the programs that we want to save and to ask them to champion these issues. When we went to their offices, they were on the floor voting, but their aides were there. We remembered that on our first trip we talked to Senator Adam Kline about the FMNP and it made a difference because with all the issues that came across his desk the FMNP stuck out. As we went to different offices we talked to each of the aides to make sure our programs would not get shuffled to the back-burner because we know that there are a lot of great programs being cut.

After talking to them we took a break for lunch, a few women from our WIG team were sitting on the bench in the Capitol admiring the buildings and statues, and someone ran in and said that Senator Adam Kline was on the steps of the Capitol. I went into “advocacy mode” (don’t know if that is correct but hey these are my words), I went outside and there he was- Senator Kline. So we circled around him and we knew we had to speak one at a time. So I spoke first and he remembered me from the last time WIG brought the FMNP to his attention. I directly asked the question that brought me to Olympia: “Is this program on your priority list”? And he replied, “Yes it is, it is 5th on the list.” I thought, that was like music to my ears. I thanked him and after talking to him we went back in to the Capitol. As we were filing back in to the Capitol one of the women from the other group mentioned that Senator Kline is a frequent customer to the Columbia City Farmers Market, which is located next door to the Got Green office (that would be us!) and how it would affect not only him but all the families that buy or sell there.

To spread the word more, our WIG team decided to seek out other districts and to pass out information on FMNP to get support wherever we can get. We dropped off letters to Representative Phyllis Kenny from the 46th District, and Representatives Ross Hunter and Bob Hasegawa from the 11th District. A legislative aide said she knew that he was not aware of this program being cut so one of our team members explained everything to her. As I think about this program that could easily be saved I often wonder if people know how important and vital FMNP vouchers are to these families (who are considered to be below poverty level).

Although she wasn’t in her office this time and we left her a packet, in response to our first visit, Senator Lisa Brown from the 3rd district and Chair on the senate side sent us a card to thank us and to let us know that she is a long time supporter of this program and “she will work to save this program.” On the ride home from Olympia I felt good about our WIG team spreading the message and not giving up hope. We know that $100,000 being cut and will result in the loss of a $900,000 program and this is bad math—it does not make sense!

So if you are reading this, help us out by calling or emailing your legislators to let them know how need this important this is to you—this program must be saved!

Women in Green go to Olympia!

Ramata Diebate reflects on the action and reports back to the Got Green and the community…

     January 12, 2012 was the day! It was a crisp but sunny January morning as Got Green headed to Olympia to try to save the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Women in Green Organizer, Tammy Nguyen knew us all too well and had coffee and a variety of sugary donuts waiting for us before our departure. As the Got Green Van was warming up, we were still kind of quiet and just waking up. But once the coffee shots and donuts started to hit, we all started talking at once and taking pictures. I could see Jabari through the rearview mirror looking at our team with amusement in his eyes.

We spoke a little bit about our action plan; who we would meet and which shy ones of us would talk first, or even second or third. Everyone was shy except for Tammy who I have the feeling was worried she would be the only one talking all day. By the time we got to the steps of the beautiful State Capitol, the coffee had hit and was in full effect and no one was shy anymore! We were pumped and decided to all take turns to speak to the legislators. Miss Emma was like, “Of course I am not shy. I’m going to let them know exactly what is on my mind.  It is time they hear us loud and clear!” Tammy sipped on her coffee and called Paul Benz, who told her that he was finding parking and would meet us inside. Emily and I looked at each other and we could see what the other was thinking, “Ok, here we go!”

Wonderful Paul Benz of the Faith Action Network spent most of his time taking us around, explaining who various people were and where we could eat and so forth. He was sweet and cheerful and really put us at ease.

Representative Eric Pettigrew for the 37th District (ours) serves on the House Ways and Means Committee which considers the operating budget and issues relating to state and local revenues such as increases and decreases in taxes, exemptions from taxes, and changes in the administration of taxes. After speaking with him about the importance of access to affordable and healthy food and how we were there to fight for the women in our community, the team got down to business and grabbed him for a picture. Tall and handsome, indeed! I think just about everyone was cheesing in that picture. My cheeks hurt afterward but I told myself, “Hey, I am not the kind of girl to get star-struck. Nope. No way.” Yes way.

When I spoke with Senator Adam Kline for the 37th district he had a great aura about him.  We caught him in his spacious and sunlit office right before he was about to run out for a meeting but he did not seem irritated at all. I was nervous but I stated the reason our committee feels that saving the FMNP is so important. It is important because health doesn’t just affect this generation but also the next. Yes, I was getting a little ahead of myself and making it too beautiful and poetic, perhaps, but he listened. At one point he waited till I finished and took me back down his memory lane of going to the Farmer’s Market when he was little and how much he enjoyed it.  He said that he will really try and save the FMNP but for us to keep in mind that he has many bills to consider.  But his heart was in it. Later Paul Benz pulled me aside and told me that I did really well, although he could see my knees shaking! I’m glad he was paying attention.

Senator Lisa Brown, his Chair on the Senate side and assisted by The Senate Ways and Means Committee, has responsibility for developing operating and capital budgets and tax pension policy. Committee staff members also review and analyze the legislation with a fiscal impact, conduct revenue, and budget studies.

And here is some more sunshine to add to our post-winter-storm days- This is the letter that Senator Lisa Brown sent to Women in Green, “Thank you for your note and the photo. I have been a long-time supporter of the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and I will work to save it!” Yay!

Governor Gregoire’s response was less than satisfactory: She basically said that she was unable to meet with us and directed us to Policy Advisor Jason McGill to discuss our concerns regarding the FMNP with him. She is the one suggesting this cut.  We will look at the positives and forget about the negative. Let’s continue to fight the good fight for the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and get involved by calling our legislators and volunteering with Got Green on this campaign!


( 1 )  Call the Washington State Legislative Hotline: 1-800-562-6000 and leave this message for your legislators:

“I support the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and oppose any cuts that would take healthy food dollars out of pockets of low income families. Vote against any cuts to Farmers Market Bucks which are good for families’ health and our planet.”

( 2 )  If you live in SE Seattle, you can call or email your legislators directly and tell your story of why you care about Farmers Market Bucks or the Columbia City Farmers Market.

* Representative Eric Pettigrew: 360-786-7838

*Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos: 360-786-7944

*Senator Adam Kline: 360-786-7944



Call: 206-290-5136 or Email:

Action on Chase Bank:Stop taking food off of our families’ tables! It’s time to give back!

Great job on the Chase action on Saturday! We delivered a big turkey and letter to the Othello branch manager demanding that Chase give back 10% of the fees they charge on EBT cards to save the Farmer’s Market Nutrition program for low-income women, children, and seniors.

Women, children, and families marched down MLK to Chase bank carrying signs to Chase Bank as we collectively asked them to give back 10% of their contract –nearly $800,000– and to use those dollars to save Farmers Market Bucks and other food programs.

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Photos provided by Inye Wokoma – Ijo Arts Photography

Got Green’s Action on Chase Bank this Saturday demanded attention, calling loudly for Chase to stop benefiting from poor families and seniors.

  • Chase has an $8 million dollar contract with the State of WA to administer EBT cards statewide, profiting each time a new family goes on food stamps. Chase’s contract nearly doubled since the recession started.
  • Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides $20 to WIC families & $40 to seniors per season to buy fresh & healthy foods.
  • If the state of WA cuts $100,000 in administrative costs to the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, low income families will lose $893,000 in federal  food dollars. This is BAD MATH!
  • Farmers Market food is locally grown & travels a much shorter distance from the field to the table.  It is healthier for families, communities, and THE PLANET!

You can make an impact TODAY by calling Phyllis Campbell, the Pacific Northwest Vice President of Chase Bank, and telling her to give back 10% of their Washington EBT card contract to save food  programs. CALL HER NOW!

PHONE: 206.500.1677

“Green Women, Healthy Voices” Event VIDEOS are here!

Our “Green Women, Healthy Voices” report back to the community event was a success! You can now watch VIDEO from the event right here on the Got Green website!

View the Women in the Green Economy Report Recommendations segment in this post and in our videos tab above you can also watch powerful testimonials from SE Seattle women: Jacquel, Katherine, Michelle, Ramata, Sylvia, and Violet.

Green Women, Healthy Voices: Ramata Diebate

Photography by Inye Wokoma / Ijo Arts Media Group

Ramata Diebate is a committed parent of two young children, Dominic and Ella. A 2007 graduate of the University of Washington, she volunteers at the Kent Family Court Parent-to-Parent Peer Advocates program. Since participating in an urban environmental education program in high school, she has worked to educate herself about our food system and its impact on family health and the environment.

At that time I took the survey, I was breastfeeding my daughter, and I was worried about having the proper nutrients; not having pesticides in my system and just generally having a healthy diet. I would say it’s of top importance to me and my family – and to every family – that we get access to healthy food.

We want our children to be healthy, to grow the way they are supposed to; and they can’t do that off of processed foods. I don’t think any family prefers to eat processed foods; but at certain times of the month, it’s what’s consumed because there’s not the funds to buy the fresh produce.

At the end of the month – it’s the hardest. At the end of the month you have to scrimp on fruits and vegetables and meat; and it shouldn’t be that way. Healthy food should be affordable enough so that families can eat well all month; not just in the first two or three weeks.

I’m struggling economically, but I’m an educated woman. And yet I don’t understand why it should be this way.

At the government level, farmers and producers of fruits and vegetables should be subsidized, and more should be grown; I read that if on one perfect day, everyone in the United States decided to follow the food and nutrition guidelines and eat at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, there wouldn’t be enough fresh produce in this country to go around. Which is a shame; they subsidize corn but not most fresh produce.

Local farmers – organic farmers – we should get them involved. Together we should be able to figure out how to make good food affordable.

Got Green will be celebrating the international day of action on climate change on September 24th a little differently than other actions nationwide by releasing a report on what low-income women and people of color have to say about their priorities for the green movement- to change the climate of our communities.

Click here to join Got Green on Saturday, September 24 from 12-2 PM at South Lake High School in Rainier Beach (8601 Rainier Ave S, 98118) as we release our report, Women in the Green Economy: Voices from SE Seattle. Free healthy lunch and childcare provided.