At Laughing Planet, we’re all about keeping it local. Today, we’d like to shine the spotlight on one of our newest local partners, Village Gardens. We’re sure you’ll be as excited as we are to support them. We are extra excited that this is the beginning of our first long-term partnership which will last for at least a full year. What is Village Gardens all about, and what makes it so special?
Bringing the Community Together
Village Gardens’ history goes back to 2001, when concerned and hopeful citizens of the community of St. Johns Woods invited the Janus Youth Programs to help them start a community garden. The hope was that the garden would give local youths a positive outlet and a sense of camaraderie. At first, nobody knew for certain how the project would shake out, and many were skeptical of its chances, but it turned out to be a rousing success.
When you consider the plight of those without enough to eat, your first thoughts might be of those in faraway lands, but the sad truth is that you don’t have to travel very far to find individuals and families for whom hunger and food insecurity are very serious problems.
According to the USDA’s 2o1o Hunger report, nearly 7% of your fellow Oregonians went hungry at some point during 2009. And according to the Oregon Food Bank, those numbers have continued to rise in the years since. Ever since the “Great Recession” struck, the number of emergency food boxes distributed by the network has increased by nearly 50%. Inability to find steady employment has seriously compromised many citizen’s access to fresh, healthy food.
That’s a serious problem. Hunger can lead to irreversible health issues, learning difficulties, and a lack of physical and mental development in children. Hungry adults are not much better off. It’s difficult to work productively on an empty stomach, and putting your best foot forward at a job interview is hard to do when your children are on the brink of starvation.
For some senior citizens, the question of where the next meal will come from can be a difficult one to answer. There are a number of difficulties facing hungry seniors.
As we age, our medical expenses tend to increase, while our income is often reduced to a fraction of what it used to be. Some struggling seniors are forced to choose between life-saving medication and sustenance. Given that stark choice, it’s no wonder that some of our elders find themselves going hungry.
Additionally, our mobility tends to decrease, reducing our options for self-sufficiency. Seniors who were once able to walk or drive to the grocery store may find themselves unable to do so, due to injuries or deteriorating vision.
When you order a cup of coffee at Laughing Planet, you might not think too much about it, other than, “Mmm. This is great coffee.” But the coffee we serve has a story behind it, and it’s one worth telling. So stop fidgeting. It’s story time.
The coffee we serve comes from Happy Cup Coffee here in Portland, Oregon. Happy Cup is a social enterprise venture from Full Life Arts & Recreation. This specialty roaster isn’t like other coffee roasters; they’re on a mission. Actually, they’re on three missions.
The first is to provide jobs, competitive wages, and a full life to adults with disabilities. The second mission is to create a brighter future for the disabled. The third mission is to provide our community with great-tasting coffee that we can feel good about drinking.
There’s something about the holiday season that makes us want to help others. Perhaps its the bell-ringers, the bounty on our own tables, or the spirit of the season that makes us want to share our good fortune with those in need.
Of course, helping to bring joy to those less fortunate during the holidays is a noble thing to do, but hunger doesn’t take the rest of the year off.
Nearly 500,000 Oregonians have limited or uncertain access to the food necessary to lead healthy, active lives, according to the USDA’s latest survey.