In preparation for Thanksgiving, Tessemae’s, the country’s largest distributor of organic salad dressing and related products, will distribute more than 40,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables to an estimated 2,000 local families living in Healthy Food Priority Areas throughout the city, the company announced today. In partnership with Whole Foods, and with produce donated by California-based company Renaissance Food Group, Tessemae’s and the Tessemae’s Foundation will host a day long community event on November 10, 2018, highlighted by the distribution of fresh produce in the Johnston Square neighborhood.
Crop Circles, Tessemae’s’ signature philanthropic, community-based event, have been held across the country for the past three years. The upcoming Baltimore event will include children’s activities, food trucks and culinary demonstrations by celebrity chefs.
“I have four kids and when you have kids you really understand the direct effect of nutrition on everything that they do,” says Tessemae’s CEO Greg Vetter. “There’s a lot of talk about Food Deserts and poor access to healthy food, so we want to help break that cycle of talk and make something happen.”
One in four Baltimore City residents currently live in Healthy Food Priority Areas—neighborhoods where access to healthy produce and quality grocery stores is extremely limited, according to a recent food map created by The Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future estimate. “We kick-off our work with what we call a Crop Circle because it has the ability to surprise and create wonder: fresh fruits and vegetables for up to 2,000 families,” Vetter added. Community Partners in support of the Crop Circles project, including Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood Organization, BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development), Rebuild Metro and The 6th Branch, have worked with Tessemae’s in designating pathways to build upon the company’s philanthropic mission of impact investments in communities nationwide to eradicate food deserts and to support policies which support healthy food initiatives.
“Rebuild Johnston Square understands the importance for better access to healthier food and nutritional education for its residents,” said Regina Hammond, President, Rebuild Johnston Square Neighborhood Organization. “With the support of BUILD and great community partnerships we can make a difference in the quality of life in our community.”
The Baltimore Crop Circles event will take place at St. Frances Academy, an independent Catholic high school with African American and Hispanic roots in the Johnston Square neighborhood of East Baltimore. St. Frances Academy serves as an agent of positive change within its inner-city neighborhood, and Tessemae’s has committed to partner with the historic high school in the areas of nutrition and healthy living. Crop Circles will be hosted on the school’s Eager Street field from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents of Johnston Square Community and neighboring communities will be joined by public officials and community, non-profit and faith-based leaders. Local champions expected to attend the November 10th event include U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings, and Mayor Catherine Pugh, whose administration has made food justice a top priority. Local restaurateur Spike Gjerde and his Woodberry Kitchen team will host live cooking workshops throughout the afternoon.