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In our own backyard: Warren-Sharpe Center selected as Obama Legacy Site

Kay Bolden | 11/21/2017, 12:33 p.m.
Warren-Sharpe Community Center was recently honored to be selected as an Obama Legacy Garden. The Center, which planted its first ...

The historic election of President Barack Obama symbolized to millions of Americans the progress that our nation has made and the fact that, despite our challenges, Americans can accomplish great things by working together. The Obama Legacy Initiative (OLI) was created to empower citizens and communities across the nation who wishes to honor President Obama’s legacy in ways that are meaningful to them. The Initiative reaches out to legislators, educators, students, community advocates and organizations to identify and name programs or physical spaces such as schools, parks or community centers after President Obama.

Warren-Sharpe Community Center was recently honored to be selected as an Obama Legacy Garden. The Center, which planted its first garden on a vacant lot in 2014, now grows vegetables on four urban lots in a south side neighborhood.

The Center’s foray into urban farming was, in fact, inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move project, and her push to reduce childhood obesity by improving the diets of American kids. After she launched the White House Kitchen Garden, schools and community centers all over the country began to rethink how we feed our kids. At Warren-Sharpe, better nutrition and improved access to healthy food became a priority.

In 2015, after a visit from U.S. Representative Bill Foster, the Warren-Sharpe kids were invited to the White House to tour the First Lady’s Garden. After that historic trip, they wrote a cookbook about their garden, their recipes and their experience at the White House called Veggie Casserole: Kids Cook the Darndest Things! (available now on Amazon.com).

Warren-Sharpe, a United Way partner agency since 1991, is located in a federally designated “food desert”, meaning that there is a high concentration of low-income residents, and a long distance to travel to get fresh food. With the closures of Certified Grocers, there are now no grocery stores east of the Desplaines River and south of Cass Street.

The food grown at Warren-Sharpe feeds the children in After School and Summer Camp during the growing season, and supports the Center’s food pantry.

The Obama Legacy Initiative Board of Directors, comprised of leaders from all walks of life who were personally inspired by the President’s accomplishments, encourages all Americans to commemorate the Obama legacy in their own community. The OLI wants to empower citizens and communities across the nation to honor President Barack Obama's legacy, naming physical spaces after him, and continuing the work of building strong communities.

OLI President Fred Greenwood visited Warren-Sharpe in October and presented the Legacy sign to be permanently displayed in the garden. The Center is recognized on the OLI website, and the kids’ cookbook available in the OLI library.

For more information visit ObamaLegacyInitiative.org.

Kay Bolden is an author, Times Weekly blogger, and travel writer. She’d love to hear your thoughts on sustainable living, and how we can all live together on the only planet we’ve got. Follow her on Twitter @KayBolden or drop her a line at Kay@KayBolden.com.