Acta Non Verba is a community-based and community-backed program; the interaction between participants and the larger community is integral to the mission of the program itself. That is: To provide fresh and affordable produce to an underserved population, and in doing so raise seed money for college funds for participating children and teens. Secondly, to provide something beyond a classroom education to children often denied any sort of extra-curricular activities due to lack of opportunities, resources, or both. The targeted participants are local low-income students, ages 5-17, interested in an outdoor work-study program for one or both growing seasons.
While national consciousness regarding disease-linked dietary factors is on the rise, low-income populations continue to experience what is being termed as “health inequities”- defined as “material, social, gendered, racial, income, and other social and economic inequalities that are beyond the control of individuals and are therefore considered unfair and unjust.” According to the Alameda County Health Board, the life expectancy for African Americans is 7.7 years less than Whites, due in part to significantly elevated rates of coronary heart disease, diabetes type I and II, and stroke –all of which are directly linked to diet and nutrition. While studies have shown that diets rich in fresh produce are associated with reduced risks of several chronic diseases, 29% of Whites, 27% of Asian, and 17% of Latinos and African Americans in Alameda County reportedly consume the recommended daily allowance of fruits and vegetables. In populations lacking access to produce and proper health education, the presence of a community garden could very well affect the quality of community health. At Acta Non Verba we believe that access to local and affordable produce should be a right of the many, not a privilege of the few.