Mobile Farmer's Market Helping the Hispanic Community

With the help of Beet Box volunteers, Puentes de Esperanza: Bridges of Hope is providing healthy options, social opportunity, and something the community can look forward to. Puentes uses the ecologically-oriented CARE principle by meeting our Hispanic community members where they are physically and situationally.

Since the start of last summer, Puentes de Esperanza has partnered with the Land of Goshen Community Market located in Edwardsville, IL. Through this partnership, the community served by Puentes can receive fresh produce from local farmers at a low cost. The volunteers of the Goshen Community Market drive to Fairmont City the “Beet Box.” This food truck attracts the attention of the community, and the word is spread on produce being sold. The members of the community can walk down the street from their homes to choose their produce. Clients can choose from a variety of vegetables, fruits, and nonperishable items to take home for 25 cents. Everyone in the community is welcome to choose their own produce.

Famer’s markets have increasingly become a staple in most towns, and they continue to expand as years go by. With the use of the Beet Box, the community of Fairmont City can have access to fresh fruit and vegetables, without having to travel far. In Fairmont City there are not many grocery stores that can provide fresh produce. This results in members of the community turning to unhealthy options of food. Within the Hispanic culture, many individuals from their country of origin are used to choosing their own produce and knowing how fresh it is. In most Hispanic countries the use of mercados is an essential part of living. Mercado in English means market. Mercados are not just a place where people buy and sell produce, but they also provide a place where social events occur. They bring joy and liveliness to a community and create a sense of belonging.

Farmworkers In the United States contribute to the production and distribution of crops. They play a key part in the nation’s economy. Migrant farmworkers have helped feed America and have faced obstacles throughout the years. At times, when people grocery shop, they seldom forget the backstory behind the farmworkers who work long hours to provide us with produce. Within the Puentes family there are many migrant farmworkers who work long hours in the fields to provide for their families. The clients even think of Puentes and if produce is in abundance, they bring them some as well. Team members have been happy going home with fresh corn to enjoy with their own families. Puentes de Esperanza is thankful for the clients they serve and continues to support them and provide resources to better suit their family needs.

With the help of Beet Box, they proudly can continue to provide produce and something to look forward to for the community. They also take into consideration the opinions of the clients and look for more produce available that they may prefer. Mothers of the families are thankful that they do not have to leave their homes to buy produce but rather can get it at a low cost right outside their doors. Puentes de Esperanza will hope to continue to continue this partnership for years to come and continue to expand their resources.

Learn more about our Hispanic community support here:

The Importance of Cultural Identity for Foster Youth

Cultural identity plays a key role in children’s lives; it is a significant part of who they are. Oftentimes cultural identity is marginalized or disregarded for children in foster care, which can lead to higher levels of loneliness and depression, lower self-esteem and difficult psychological adjustments that in turn affect coping skills and learning. Therefore, the role cultural identity plays in the overall well-being of a child cannot be ignored.

Currently there are only four states in the US that legally and explicitly provide the right to cultural heritage activities for youth in foster care via their foster youth bill of rights. In Illinois, the law states it is the foster parent’s responsibility to support activities for foster youth that continue a relationship with their cultural heritage. In Missouri, the law states foster parents shall provide care respectful of a youth’s cultural identity. However, in both states, there is little legal accountability to make sure foster parents are actually engaging in such practices. In many instances, even the most intentioned foster parents find it difficult to find the proper cultural resources for the child.

There are many ways foster parents, as well as other individuals working with youth, can promote cultural identity. It begins by asking the youth questions about the cultural practices, norms or traditions that are important to them. Cultural identity forms during primary socialization, a stage in life when a child learns how to view the world through their immediate family and close friends. If this core group can expose the foster child to their heritage in this stage, the child can develop a higher level of social well-being. Key cultural distinctions are food, holidays, age milestones, music, dancing, clothing and language. Connecting foster youth to these aspects of their culture by pursuing activities that expose them to ethnic food, music, rituals and events is key to helping them strengthen their identity. By recognizing and teaching a foster child about their cultural background, the child acquires the group’s core values and adopts their sociocultural practices and rituals, which helps the child position him or herself in society.

In 2016, with more than 437,000 children in foster care in the United States, 44% identified as white, 23% black, 21% Hispanic, 9% multiracial and 2% unknown ethnicities. All of these children should have the right to learn and embrace their heritage. If you are currently caring for a foster child or will be with family this holiday season with a child from another ethnic group, please recognize and celebrate their culture with them. We can all learn from each other.