Tanikka CunninghamSprouts of an Idea
Tanikka was looking for a good way to earn income, and on a whim she answered an ad about providing wholesale produce to schools, military bases and prisons. She won the contracts, put into play the farming knowledge she'd acquired as the granddaughter of sharecroppers, and the company took off. But when she discovered that prison inmates were served an apple a day while fruit was only an occasional treat for local school kids, her business morphed into a mission.
Tanikka began setting up nutritional outreach programs called Healthy Eaters Future Leaders in North Carolina. The plan was to provide wholesome snacks to students, and prizes for the classes that consumed the most servings of fruits and vegetables. But it soon became clear that more was required. "Mothers would tell me they were thrilled their children were eating well during the day, but they couldn't afford to feed their families like that at home," says Tanikka, a mom of four, ages 8, 6, 4 and 2. "I knew there had to be a way."
Around that time Tanikka discovered that small farmers were selling their produce at cut-rate prices, then throwing out what they couldn't sell, simply because they didn't have refrigeration. With a modest government grant, she arranged to buy those crops wholesale and hire trucks to transport the goods.
She organized the project into the nonprofit Healthy Solutions, and set up distribution centers (which she calls "farmers' markets without the farmers") at churches and community centers.
Staffed by teenagers from area high schools, these outlets offer "Freggies," baskets that include a variety of in-season produce—kiwis from Pennsylvania, sweet potatoes from North Carolina and cherries from Maryland.
A 20-pound container, enough to feed a family of four for a few weeks, sells for $25—about half what it would cost at a store. Tanikka accepts food stamps too, which has increased the project's impact on nearby households.
Bringing in more than 15,000 pounds of produce a month to Washington, D.C., Healthy Solutions feeds over 3,500 families. Tanikka's most recent venture is a market in Thomaston, Alabama, a rural town of just 354 residents that has never had a grocery store. "All it takes to change people's lives," she says, "is tying up a few loose ends and looking at challenges from a different perspective."
Healthy Solutions Childhood Obesity Pilot Project continues to provide positive results in our Nation's Capitol.
Student Youth Interns from the Cesar Chavez Charter School for Public Policy and Career Development help engage younger students about the relationship between healthy foods and healthy lifestyle at the Riverside Center in Anacostia, D.C.
The developing partnership with White House "Let's Move Campaign," "Faith Based" leadership, United States Department of Agriculture, Health and Human Service Agency and the Government of the District of Columbia will continue to produce good fruit.
Our Healthy and Sustainable Food Development Program youth interns are very excited to meet leading Public Policy officials from the U.S. Government who are concerned enough to personally come and experience what happens, first hand, in the communities with unique challenges and needs.
There are only three major chain grocery stores east of the Anacostia River, so the impact of Healthy Solutions, which brings 10,000 pounds of fresh produce into the community each month, is critical.
The Obama Administration’s proposed Healthy Food Financing Initiative would send more resources to help bring access to affordable, fresh, and healthy food to communities like Anacostia.
Together, we will expand the current momentum, and embrace the developing concept of "Let's Move." From East of the River (ward 7 and 8 in the District of Columbia) into communities in New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Alabama.
Our "Faith to Farm Initiative" concept will expand outreach efforts to connect the broader "Faith Based Community" "bridging the gap" between limited resource producers and the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
We will develop regional and local food systems through job creation, career development while stabilizing communities though postive collaborative relationships.
Growth and expansion of our collaborative network throughout Louisiana, Texas, California, Nevada and Arizona, birthplace of Cesar Chavez, will our 21st century "manifest destiny."
Healthy Solutions Group and several leading faith based organizations are looking expand on a national scale by developing regional infrastructure capacity with an eye to share appropriate technology with our international extended family.
View the Final Report of DC’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Pilot Program, it will give you some statistics on the D.C. service area and key learnings for national communities to build successful programs.
Black Agriculture will continue to help restore Agriculture as the foundation of Black Culture and celebrate the wisdom of Healthy Solutions Group.
Healthy Solutions ~
Invites you to our Open House
Tuesday, February 24, 2012,
4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Center for Green Urbanism, 3938 Benning Road NE, Washington DC 20019
Parking is available
Come meet and greet regional leaders, and learn about Healthy Solutions.
Experience the launch of our National Black Agriculture Awareness Initiative and learn about the UN International Year for People of African Descent.
All are welcomed, we look forward to seeing you and working with you to create "Healthy Solutions" for our communities.
Black Philanthropy Alliance
DC Department of Health
Ahol / Giant of Maryland
Healthy Living, Inc.
Ward 7 Councilwoman and Staff
Bread for the City
Capital Area Food Bank
Mayor Gray, Office of Economic Development
District of Columbia, Small and Local Disadvantage Business
Asian Ag Reporter
East of the River Clergy Collaborative
East of the River Family Enhancement Center
DC Public Housing Authority
Open House Contact:
Office: 888-415-2667x 702
Healthy Solutions is a 501 (c)(3) organization whose mission is to increase the capacity of communities of color, particularly African Americans, to achieve self-reliance through distribution, agriculture, entrepreneurship, and cooperative healthy food enterprises.
Our vision is to use this model to create sustainable, equitable communities that realize both the health and economic benefits of their community food systems and their community food security.