My name is Emily Nadal and I was placed at Common Threads NYC with Public Allies. During my time at Common Threads NYC, we’ve served various areas through the city that are considered food deserts, areas with little to no access to healthy and affordable food. We have so long been denied access to healthy food options, knowledge of where our food comes from, availability of open green spaces and representation of the community when it comes to important decision making on these needs. Because of this, we have suffered greatly – obesity rates have gone up, specifically in lower income communities, and health issues that at one time were exclusive to the elder population have now begun affecting our youth. For these reasons, we target these food desert communities because Common Threads NYC aims to create healthier lifestyles for children and families through nutrition, education and cooking skills. Students and families receive hands-on experience and valuable knowledge allowing them to sustain important health changes after our ten-week sessions. It’s amazing to see children learn so much when they are able to be involved in the process – from learning how to mince vegetables to understanding different health benefits of foods. Being a part of a solution to one critical problem has been an amazing experience. When our communities are more conscious of where their food comes from and how to utilize healthy ingredients to prepare a nutritious meal, their health is greatly affected on various levels. When families start to realize that the best food is grown locally, they become their own advocates for local gardens, framer’s markets or growing their own vegetables and herbs. And this knowledge creates an appreciation for the natural world in which the food is grown. I have seen these small changes take place and they ultimately lead to bigger alterations to our standard of living. And not only have I been noting changes in the communities I work in, but I have been creating those changes in my own life. For me, that has been the most impactful aspect of this whole experience. I realized my own barriers and I was able to overcome them in order to assist others in the process.