America’s Grow-a-Row addresses the problems of hunger, food insecurity, and the lack of availability of fresh, healthy produce for those living in “food deserts” – areas that lack access to fresh, affordable produce – and the need for education among people of all ages about healthy eating and the hunger crisis. America’s Grow-a-Row helps relieve the stress of food insecurity and the impact of diet-related disease by increasing access to fresh fruits and vegetables and teaching about the importance of consuming fresh produce for healthy living.
For many people in New Jersey and the region, income has not kept up with the high cost of living despite improvements in the overall economy. According to the 2018 United Way ALICE® Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), nearly 40% of New Jersey households are living below, at, or just above the poverty level, many working but struggling to make ends meet. In New York City, 52% are in ALICE and poverty; and in greater Philadelphia, 55% of residents fall below the ALICE threshold, including roughly 25% who live below the poverty line.
Too often, people walking a financial tightrope have to choose between basic necessities such as paying the rent or buying food for their families. According to Feeding America’s 2019 Map the Meal Gap, there are nearly 866,000 people in New Jersey who are food insecure, including over 260,000 children. In New York City, over 1.1 million people are food insecure, and in Philadelphia, more than 315,000 people are food insecure. It is critical that people suffering from food insecurity have fresh produce as a staple of their diets. The fruits and vegetables provided by America’s Grow-a-Row contain nutrients essential for healthy living and help give kids the nutrition they need to thrive.
America’s Grow-a-Row’s clients are saving money, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and learning about the importance of consuming fresh produce for healthy living. One of our Free Farm Market clients shares that: “Vegetables are very expensive and we are six in my family, now we can eat healthy.”