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Growing a New America

Media Contact:
Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

By Stacy Kish, CSREES Staff
August 20, 2008

Holy Names Garden
Holy Names Garden Grand Opening.
Credit: AnewAmerica Community Corporation

Studies show that one quarter of foreign-born Latino and Southeast Asian immigrants live at or below the poverty level. AnewAmerica Community Corporation's Green Market project works with immigrant food microentrepeneurs to create new markets for products and provides educational opportunities to increase the use of sustainable and green technologies and break the cycle of poverty in the San Francisco Bay community.

With funding from USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, AnewAmerica, in conjunction with Agricultural Land-Based Association, developed the Green Market project. The project provides a holistic curriculum that links food microbusiness training and technical assistance with sustainable development and organic agriculture. The diverse course work includes business planning, food marketing, organic and healthy nutrition for low-income people, processing and certification. Previous classes included recycling, composting, energy use, cleaning products and fair wages.

"This project [is] unique in giving low-income food businesses and farmers the opportunity to learn from each other about [the] challenges and practices involved in producing and marketing healthy foods in low-income communities," said Sylvia Rosales-Fike, AnewAmerica's president and CEO.

The Green Market project also developed a business incubation program, called the Green Banana Food Incubation Project. The business incubator includes a certification program that allows participants to earn college certificates in business planning from Anew America's educational partner, Holy Names University, in Oakland, Calif. During the certification program, participants are teamed with a business coach in industry to learn practical business management and operation techniques.

The Green Banana Café, Kitchen School and Community Space provide participants access to a marketplace and experimental training to practice new business skills. After participants obtain their formal business licenses and finalize a business plan, they may move onto the next step in the education and training process, the Access to Markets program. This program gives participants access to business development opportunities, credit services and microloan packages through partner financial institutions.

"This program helped me understand that I, as a single mother, low-income food entrepreneur, can access healthy foods for my business and for my children. I thought only rich people could eat well!" said Cecilia Lopez, the entrepreneur running Green Banana Café and owner of "Cecilia's Salsa," a product from this program at AnewAmerica.

Over the past 3 years, the program has helped 65 entrepreneurs receive business training through the Green Banana Food Incubator, 153 participants receive college business planning certificates, 26 clients obtain Food Safety and Handling certification and 13 participants hone their skills in the Green Banana Community Kitchen School.

AnewAmerica Community Corporation was founded in 1999 by a group of community leaders representing immigrants and community development advocates. The program provides integrated job creation, asset development and community empowerment strategies for low-income new Americans living in the San Francisco Bay Area. To learn more about AnewAmerica visit the Web site: www.anewamerica.org/index.html.

CSREES funded this research project through the Community Food Projects program. Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, CSREES focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit www.csrees.usda.gov.

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