Philip Yu is a Davidson junior working on food transparency issues in the Charlotte area. I interviewed him briefly about his work with Sow Much Good, a local non-profit, and his project addressing geographic issues relating to food security. For more information about Sow Much Good visit http://www.sowmuchgood.org. The map Philip developed as part of his project can be found at: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-80.8236924,11z/data=!4m2!6m1!1szeumfHqsDsOU.kGg0Ve_Qixmc.
Can you give me a brief summary of your project?
I’m working on a project for Jeff Rose’s class on non-profits that are addressing food deserts. It has ended up being more of a critique of the spatial understanding of food deserts. The current official definition for food deserts is lacking and doesn’t allow for solutions to be created. Part of my reflection is from my experience with Sow Much Good. They don’t just build a market, they build a community. It’s not the usual customer-business relationship. Sow Much Good listens to the customer and reflects their preferences in their products. This inversion of paradigm is necessary for solving the food dessert issue.
What got you interested in this topic?
I worked with Sow Much Good for two semesters through Bonner and thought it was part of a really complex issue. I wondered why customers go there when they have limited hours and products, but I found out about broader issues like the access to healthy food and flexibility in relationships Sow Much Good offered. People also like to support local businesses rather than large corporations that don’t listen to them.
What are the larger implications of this project?
Food access in Charlotte is a multi-leveled problem. People need to eat and other non-profits address this basic need, but food security comes from a consistent source, which no non-profit, including Sow Much Good, can solve individually. Each addresses a different tier of the issue and I want to see more collaboration between these groups.
Where do you plan on going from here?
Next semester I’ll be working with Sow Much Good to recruit high schools in the area to also work on this problem. Food access is a social problem, so we need to start with education in the local community. This will be both beneficial to the students and the non-profits.
What is one thing you want to tell the Davidson community about food access and insecurity?
These non-profits are doing the best they can, but with limited resources and they need more help. A couple hours of volunteering one weekend is great but there needs to be more consistent involvement and support.