BRADDOCK, PA — Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined Second Lady Gisele Fetterman and urban agriculture leaders at Braddock Farms in Allegheny County at a free vaccine clinic hosted by UPMC this week. There, they highlighted how Pennsylvania’s urban gardens and markets work to combat the health and food disparities emphasized by COVID-19.
Fetterman and Redding encourage residents of Braddock to trust the science behind vaccine development, but also refer to health professionals in the community to have their vaccine questions answered and make educated choices for themselves, their families, and their community.
“Getting vaccinated is an act of love, for yourself, your family, and your community,” Second Lady Fetterman. “It’s my pleasure to join this effort to help share that love with others.”
Public health crises, like COVID-19, have the potential to affect all populations but typically have more severe impacts on underserved populations, making those populations more vulnerable to severe illness and death. The Department of Health has worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to address these disparities within not only racial and ethnic minority groups, but other marginalized populations. Addressing COVID-19 through a health equity lens is critical for both COVID-19 mitigation and vaccine distribution.
COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect against the virus, including new variants. Data shows that vaccines provide protection against severe disease, hospitalization, and death.
“Underlying health and social inequities put many BIPOC communities at increased risk of severe illness and health complications from COVID-19,” said Secretary Redding. “Food access and health go hand in hand, and urban agriculture plays a vital role in combatting the injustices seen within our food system. Urban gardens serve as trusted neighborhood hubs, connecting people to healthy, nutritious foods and resources that benefit the health and vitality of the community.”
Braddock Farms is one of three urban farm sites run by Grow Pittsburgh in Allegheny County. Grow Pittsburgh strives to teach people how to grow food and promote the benefits gardens bring to urban neighborhoods. Community participation, food sovereignty, social justice and equity are among the organization’s values, guiding the principal that everyone should have the opportunity to grow and eat local, healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food.
“Grow Pittsburgh is a trusted source for fresh fruits and vegetables in Braddock and in other food apartheid and underserved areas,” said Denele Hughson, Grow Pittsburgh Executive Director. “Easy access to healthy local food and health services are essential, and today residents can find both here at Braddock Farms with the pop-up vaccine clinic and our farm stand. Accessibility to fresh local food and healthcare are interconnected, and Grow Pittsburgh is proud to help make a difference in our communities.”
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