YouthBuild Helps Freshen Up Grassroots Groceries

Hello all, today I would like to begin the Building Futures YouthBuild AmeriCorps blog post with a video and a short quote from First Lady Michelle Obama on healthy eating habits in America today.

“In the end, as First Lady, this isn’t just a policy issue for me. This is a passion. This is my mission. I am determined to work with folks across this country to change the way a generation of kids thinks about food and nutrition.” – First Lady Michelle Obama

Between 2005 and 2010, American adults practiced healthier eating habits, according to a recent USDA news release, “American Adults are Choosing Healthier Foods, Consuming Healthier Diet.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said this movement for healthy eating, spearheaded by the First Lady and the Obama administration, is geared toward adults and children alike.

“The Obama Administration is working hard to empower the American public to make smart choices every day at school, at home and in their communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We have made significant progress, but our work is not done. We will continue to invest in critical programs that expand the availability of healthy, safe, affordable food for all Americans.”

Just like the First Lady and the Obama administration, Grassroots Grocery is spearheading efforts to promote healthier eating habits. So, outside of the obvious, just what is Grassroots Grocery? (Kudos, by the way, to whomever came up with that name, which is simple but all inclusive of their mission.)


YouthBuild students stand out in front of Grassroots Grocery, which is located at 415A Ridge Street in Alton, Illinois.

Grassroots Grocery is an economically viable cooperative grocery that makes healthy food more accessible to all. It serves as a local food distribution system that keeps money circulating in the local economy and supports new sustainable development. The goal of the Grassroots Grocery is to establish a resource for healthy food and locally made food products, focused on produce grown within a 50-mile radius, whenever possible. It strives to involve the community through education, outreach and networking opportunities that contribute to the restoration of local, sustainable agriculture in the Alton area. Grassroot’s vision is to transform its neighborhood, a USDA-designated “food desert” with limited access to transportation, into a home for accessible, affordable, healthy food.

If you have any prior background knowledge of Building Futures I know what you’re thinking…. What does a GED preparation and facilities maintenance skill training program have to do with healthy eating habits and Grassroots Grocery?


L&C’s YouthBuild cohort recently build menu boards for Grassroots Grocery.

As a part of the AmeriCorps affiliation call for service, Building Futures YouthBuild student cohorts design and carry out service projects, according to a critical community needs assessment. Critical community needs assessments can include issues concerning the environment, economy, education, health, housing, youth development, senior care, infrastructure and human services. Cohort leadership committee members are responsible for identifying what organizations provide services in each area, making contact with these organizations and working in cooperation with such organizations and their particular missions.

Sometimes these services are classified as primary service projects, during which Building Futures Members utilize skills they have learned in the construction lab. For example, YouthBuild members recently built menu boards for the Grassroots Grocery. Other times the services are classified as secondary projects, in which Building Futures lends a helping hand in whatever way we can in aiding the organization in a supportive role, for example, when members painted a mural for the Grassroots Grocery. Both examples make us proud to support such a great group of students, who in return also support one another.

Building Signs

YouthBuild students build a menu board for Grassroots Grocery.

Having conducted a variety of service projects, the current Building Futures cohort is very active in the community and has completed roughly 1,422 hours of community service since August 24, 2015. The members and staff of Building Futures are pleased to serve the Alton community and ask anyone, who knows of an organization that could use assistance, to please contact the YouthBuild Service Project Coordinator at (618) 468-4113.


YouthBuild students stand in front of murals, which they helped paint, at Grassroots Grocery.

Until the next time, signing off…

Pat Mays
YouthBuild Coordinator

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Dr. Martin Luther King.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s