Environment & Public Space

Food Truck on the Frontlines: Fighting Poverty and Hunger

Food Truck on the Frontlines is an entrepreneurial food truck employment & hunger reduction program. With the project management skills of a top Miami culinary educator, Nature Links (NL) proposes to transform blighted public spaces in Miami into a solution to reduce poverty and hunger, two key social issues for vulnerable Miami residents. First, NL will expand their entrepreneurial food truck employment program for transitioning, low-income youth with intellectual disabilities. Second, students will travel with this mobile kitchen to Miami neighborhoods to build urban gardens in vacant or underused public spaces. The project will focus on neighborhoods with the highest rates of hunger to provide free nutritional education, gardening, and food prep classes, in addition to serving healthy meals to local residents and families in need of food assistance from the food truck. We will create a program model for bridging educational and cultural divides by connecting & empowering two traditionally vulnerable populations: youth with disabilities and the hungry. NL will partner with Miami-Dade Public Schools, the City of Miami Parks and Rec. Dept., Miami-Dade College North, the University of Miami and participating local food pantries.

Who are you?

NL serves young adults with intellectual disabilities who are able to engage in job training, volunteer activities, & gain independent life skills. NL was founded by Dr. Greg Bush, a UM Professor who is an active advocate for youth with disabilities.

How does this project impact the issue you selected?

By training & employing youth with disabilities to run a food truck, they gain employment & learn transferable skills in sanitary food preparation, money management, customer service, teamwork, etc. This program will increase employment opportunities, thus decreasing the poverty rate for this population. Youth will demonstrate their potential by working with the community to transform urban spaces into empowering hubs of organic gardening, nutritional education and health literacy.

What data points from The Our Miami Report does your project address?

Environment & Public Space Goal 2: Miami Residents have ample access to quality public spaces. As the report shows, Miami has a devastatingly low level of public parks per capita. Parks not only increase property values & the physical well being of neighborhoods, but also provide a critical opportunity for connection. The more a community is interconnected, the more resilient it is to hardship. We will increase the level of parks per capita & refurbish public spaces to their original vibrancy.

Please give examples of your project's success.

Since 2007, NL has increased independence in approximately 97 young adults with disabilities thru its nature-based continuing education programs. NL anticipates an 80% graduation rate of program participants to higher level volunteerism or paying jobs.
Programs:

 

1.Project Bridge for youth ages 18-22, (2007-2012)
2. Saturdays By the Bay, Historic Virginia Key Beach, (2012-Now)
3. Connections Nature in Miami, Lummus Park (2/14-Now)
4. Connections Nature in South Miami, w/MDCPS, (9/14-Now)

Organization Name (or individuals name) Nature Links for Life Long Learning

Voting

19 votes
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Idea No. 38