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EPA Recognizes Community Services Unlimited for Its Unique Work towards Sustainability and Access to Healthy Food for Youth in South Los Angeles

Release Date: 09/24/2012
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi, mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov

LOS ANGELES-- U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld today, recognized Community Services Unlimited (CSU) with an environmental award for its unique and innovative work towards health, sustainability and youth leadership in South Los Angeles. CSU Executive Director, Neelam Sharma has developed food justice education and training programs in environmental justice communities. Through the development of three urban farm sites, CSU and Sharma focus on natural and sustainable food production methods to ensure that food is grown healthy and safe. This educational program uses food as a tool to educate, empower, and rebuild communities

“EPA applauds Neelam Sharma and Community Services Unlimited for its incredible work towards educating the youth on the importance of sustainable urban agriculture,” Blumenfeld said. “This work will ensure that future generations in South Los Angeles are eating healthy food as well as protecting the environment.”

The EPA Pacific Southwest region’s Environmental Awards program acknowledges commitment and significant contributions to the environment in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Pacific Islands and tribal lands. Groups and individuals were selected from nominees received this year from businesses, local, government officials, tribes, media, environmental organizations and community activists.

South Central Los Angeles is 98% minority and 38% of the households live at or below the federal poverty level. To expand the conversation on environmental change, urban farms and healthy home food production, CSU has partnered with Normandie Avenue Elementary and John Muir Middle Schools to install school mini-farms that include gardens and fruit tree orchards that are used to train and educate youth on healthy eating.

In addition, Sharma is a founding member of the California Food and Justice Coalition that educates the community about the economic benefits of urban agriculture and home food production; about the health risks posed by lead contaminated soil and pesticide use; and farming/gardening techniques that reduce exposure to these risks. She is also a founding member of the Healthy School Food Coalition in which the parent’s coalition was responsible for passing the first ever soda ban in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Photos from the today’s presentation can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/EPAregion9?ref=ts


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