You wait outside the supermarket for your turn to buy your weeks worth of food. Donning a mask and gloves, you rush through the store, tossing as much of the preserved meat, canned goods, non perishable snacks, premade meals, and frozen pizzas into your cart as possible. You come home to sit in a chair to work for unproductive hours, and fall into a vicious cycle of eating and sleeping. What day is it again? And when was the last time you had a salad?
In Japan, as a result of the mass quarantine, the obesity rates have astronomically inflated. This is due to many factors: a lack of exercise, stress, and most importantly a poor diet. Cooped up inside homes laden with non-perishable soups and premade meals, it is easy to lose sight of a healthy diet when making meals at home. Furthermore, it can be difficult to access fresh produce when stores are limited on supplies and citizens are limited in their travel. In flattening the curve of physical interaction with quarantine, we have ensued a spike in poor eating habits.
It is a dangerous instigator. What many consider to be a temporary lifestyle can lead to unhealthy long term habits. To combat this overlooked consequence of the quarantine we are all suffering through, I founded my youth-run nonprofit organization QuaranGreen. QuaranGreen works to curve all of these aspects of an unhealthy lifestyle with a simple and easy first step: growing a lettuce plant. Our mission is to distribute potted lettuce plants to schools, community organizations, and households throughout local communities in order to promote healthy eating habits, build friendly community bonding, and reduce stress.
By bridging the gap between local farms and community organizations, QuaranGreen creates an environment for accessible produce and healthy habits. Just having an indoor plant builds a healthy routine and reduces stress. Each of our free plants come with an information packet that outlines ways to make healthy meals and how to continue to build a garden. Specifically, I made sure that my organization targeted households that are most vulnerable including families, people living in apartments, people of low socio-economical status, and people living alone.
What started as a mere seed has sprouted into a growing state-wide campaign. Currently, QuaranGreen operates in 25 cities and towns with close to 150 volunteers. We have partnered with local food pantries, senior service campaigns, and homeless shelters to be able to spread our green message throughout local communities. QuaranGreen has been awarded 5 national grants, totaling over $10,000 in funds raised. In all, QuaranGreen has served over 2000 households and is continuing to expand and grow. To keep track of our growth and outline our mission within the community, I created our website www.QuaranGreen.org
As QuaranGreen continues to grow, it has been an honor to be rewarded with great media coverage and community service recognitions, however the most rewarding part of my work with QuaranGreen has been the massive positive responses from the community. I know that my journey as a social entrepreneur has just begun and I strive to continue to find unique ways to implement positive changes into my community. But for now, I know that if our communities come together and persevere in these times of need, we can all enjoy the greener future that lies ahead.