Mobile-market-introduced-in-New-Orleans-Ninth-Ward

Mobile market introduced in New Orleans' Ninth Ward

In the Akan culture of Ghana, the "Sankofa" represents the importance of respecting the wisdom of the past while planning and working for the future. Tulane public health master's graduate Elyse Mason embodied that concept when she teamed up with Sankofa Community Development Corporation (CDC) to open a fresh food mobile market in New Orleans' Ninth Ward neighborhood.

Sankofa CDC is a New Orleans organization that supports the creation of a local environment that promotes positive health outcomes and long-term community wellbeing. Through the Tulane Prevention Research Center's Health Promotion Practicum Program in 2014, Mason worked with Rosamar Torres at Sankofa as the Mobile Market Intern and developed community outreach tools to market patronage and increase fresh food consumption within the community. Mason worked to include the mobile market into the preexisting framework of the community by partnering with local groups.

"In the case of the mobile market, we partnered with churches and senior centers to integrate the mobile market schedule into existing programs at each site," Mason commented. "We strengthened these partnerships with supplementary activities, such as nutrition education workshops."

Within the mobile market, Mason devoted time to an incentive program for low-income seniors and families. Torres, who is also a Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine alumnus, appreciated Mason's work toward this endeavor.

"Elyse was a great support to Sankofa," Torres commented. "She helped on the Mobile Market and strengthened the Veggie Dollar Program system, which is an incentive program to increase senior access to fresh produce."

Mason experimented with different programmatic strategies to make the incentive program more effective, using program planning, monitoring, and evaluation skills essential to a public health education.

"I’m currently working as a research analyst with a small research and evaluation group here in New Orleans," Mason said. "My experience at Sankofa has already proven useful as it increased my understanding of effective monitoring strategies and the challenges program managers face in carrying out an evaluation plan in the field."

Mason's practicum experience with Sankofa was not only rewarding for her, but for the organization and its initiatives as well.

"I think it is great for any non-profit organization to work with graduate public health students, they are very engaged and knowledgeable," Torres stated. "They bring in a new perspective and a needed support to the work we do."

The Sankofa Mobile Market offers fresh, seasonal produce sourced from local farmers and the Sankofa Garden at 27 St. Claude Court in the Lower Ninth Ward. They also host health education activities including health screenings and cooking demos. For more information on Sankofa CDC and for the Mobile Market schedule, visit www.sankofanola.org. Follow Sankofa on Twitter using @SankofaNOLA.

(Click on the photos above to see a slideshow. Photos courtesy of Sankofa CDC and Tulane PRC: Sankofa Mobile Market brings fresh food to local community members of New Orleans' Ninth Ward every Tuesday and every other Sunday. Practicum intern Elyse Mason works in the garden and displays her work through a poster presentation to the Tulane Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences Department in Spring 2015.)

Topics:   agriculture , community health , diet , farmers market , food environment , nutrition

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