Fresh Food for a New Generation

The city of Boston, MA is known for being many things. It is widely regarded as the academic and intellectual capital of the United States (which, for some, also means the world). It is home to a number of lucrative and successful sports franchises (a fact which its fans never seem to let anyone else forget). It has more history in a few of its city blocks than most of the Midwest does in its entirety. It breeds a thick and pretty universally hated native accent, but only in certain areas. It is across the river from Cambridge, MA, home to Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck….even poor old yours truly.

And, like a true East Coast metropolis, it has a spectacular blend of cultures, too. This, along with prime coastal location, makes for a seriously gourmet selection of food. The trouble, it should go without saying, is that it comes at a steep price. Which is the case in more or less any city (particularly on the Coasts), but Boston’s unique brand of classism has left its lesser developed neighborhoods in a state of destitution and disrepair. It’s no secret that obesity and diabetes are more prevalent in low-income neighborhoods, but the severity and aggressive expansion of that prevalence is a well-kept one, especially in the Northeast.

According to the CDC, obesity rates among black and Hispanic adults in Boston (32% and 30%, respectively) are nearly twice that of white adults (a still unsettling 17%). This would be far less concerning were it not for the fact that black and Hispanic adults make up nearly 40% of Boston’s metropolitan population; that is a fact. The areas in question here are Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan (a. colloquially k. a. “Murderpan”), the proverbial ghettos of Boston accounting for nearly 200,000 people. If you live in the greater Boston area, these are places you typically do not go (unless you are carrying a gun, or Mark Wahlberg, or both).

The result, then, is an increasingly overweight minority population that is habitually overlooked due to Boston’s reputation for being home exclusively to the wealthy and/or educated majority. Options in the way of food within the confines of these three neighborhoods are few and prodigiously caloric; they consist overwhelmingly of fast food joints, which are themselves so ridiculously abundant and easily accessible that there is virtually no other financially sound option for impoverished residents of Boston. Jackson Renshaw aims to change that.

His startup project, Fresh Food Generation, is a bold and much needed foray into the social justice arena that uses a rather unconventional tool: namely, a truck. The industry for food trucks is thriving in cities like Austin or Portland, but has yet to really flourish in the Northeast. Fresh Food Generation will serve a menu of globally inspired recipes using fresh, locally grown ingredients. Further, it will only employ young adults from the actual communities being served, many of whom would have little to no chance at any form of gainful vocation in the present economy.

Too, it should be said that Fresh Food Generation’s menu is composed of food that is healthy, and not health food. Let’s face it, if you’ve been living off of Mickey D’s and greasy pizza your whole life, Kashi and bean sprouts aren’t going to sound very appetizing to you — although nor do they to me, if I’m honest. Fresh Food Generation will be a business, and its aim is not to patronize or fulfill some deep-seated white man’s guilt. What it is, as far as I can tell, is to provide a wholesome and affordable alternative to people that have historically been deprived of one. The fact that the employees are to be Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan natives should lend credence to this.

Jackson has been a friend of mine since high school, which is really an impressive feat on its own, given that most who knew me in high school were wise enough to rid themselves of my adolescent wrath. That is relevant information, though, because it means that I can  vouch for him, wholeheartedly — and that I’m not shamelessly plugging or preaching. It means I can say, in preciously rare good conscience, that his fight for social justice is pro-righteous rather than self-. Most importantly, however, it means that I know him, know what he’s made of, which is what enables me to write about this; because I only write what I know. And what I know is this: that his is a sincerely and auspiciously good cause; one that merits support from all potential backings, and to which I shall happily lend my words.

The goal is $45,000.

The man has accomplished all but five-thousand of this.

The link to his kickstart page is below.

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