Phoenix Women’s Group Promotes Food Security/Action Plan

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Courier Newsroom’s The Cooper Courier reports that a determined group of women in South Phoenix is attempting to address the systemic problems of food insecurity in their community.

South Phoenix, despite being near rich agricultural land, has been designated a “food desert,” meaning most residents live more than 1 mile from access to fresh and nourishing food.

“In 2017, the Phoenix Office of Environmental Programs applied for assistance through the Local Foods, Local Places program, which is funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” writes Scianna Garcia for Courier Newsroom’s The Cooper Courier.

“The goal was to develop a food action plan that would promote healthful living and increase economic opportunities for local farmers and businesses.

“The food plan’s developers are a diverse group of women, all from different community organizations and backgrounds, but with some kind of connection to South Phoenix.”

Women Working for Change

Women like Maria Parra Cano are working for change. Cano lamented that while residents were eager to change their food habits, many ingredients were not available in the area. During the pandemic, access to wholesome food plunged, and Cano began giving away organic food packages from her food truck to help residents.

She’s now working alongside other women as part of the 2025 Phoenix Food Action Plan. The plan seeks to promote food systems in Phoenix that expand access to nutritional food.

Building a food system involves more than just opening new grocery stores. It gives small businesses and farmers what they need to thrive, and it educates people on how to shop for healthy options and prepare meals. This ensures that there is a strong supply and demand for real food.

‘You Are What You Eat’

Another developer of the Food Action Plan is Amelia García. She has been encouraging food independence by growing food in her backyard and teaching others to do the same. Her work for the social organization South Phoenix Healthy Start educates children and parents on how to develop good dietary habits early in life.

“You are what you eat,” said García. “If you’re quick, easy, and cheap, that’s how you’re going to live your life. But if you take the time to grow and understand your food, and nurture your knowledge of what you are growing, then you will, in turn, feed your mind.”

Isabel Garcia, a social worker and contributor to the Food Action Plan, noted that a lack of access to transportation is a big part of food insecurity in the community, Scianna Garcia reports in The Cooper Courier, published by Courier Newsroom. Government policies have left South Phoenix out of transport innovations for decades, effectively cutting off residents from the greater community and access to essential products and services.

“We have been intentionally kept out because of racism and systemic oppression, we have been kept away from healthy food, and the big supermarket chains have no incentive to come into South Phoenix,” she said.

Grassroots Activism

The women’s collective has been working with the city to make their plan a reality. Phoenix is funding grassroots organizations dedicated to providing food assistance and education to families.

The plan also calls for preserving local agricultural land and encouraging families to grow fresh food in their backyards. So far, the city has put more than 100 gardens in homes in South and West Phoenix.

Over the coming years, these women and others will continue to shrink food deserts in Phoenix by expanding accessibility to real food.

“If we focus more on the foods we eat, we will change health outcomes, infant mortality rates, and crime rates, simply by changing our eating habits,” said Amelia García.

This story originally appeared in The Copper Courier, a publication owned by Courier Newsroom.

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