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Reflection on the First Half of My Time in Mckees Rocks

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Posted: June 13, 2016

This summer, Aaron and I have been working on the issue of food insecurity in McKees Rocks. Many of the families in the area need access to better food options, such as more produce and less processed foods. Heavy reliance on processed foods exists in the area, leading to an influx of disease like diabetes, and hypertension. Efforts to make fresh produce more available have taken off in the past, but have been unsuccessful due to lack of demand. Additionally, 40% of the population is without access to transportation. Our goal for the summer has developed into creating a strategic plan that summarizes the current state of McKees Rocks, and recommends actions that promote behavioral change. We also plan to include what the next tangible steps of action should be in the process. 

At first, I had felt a bit overwhelmed with the topic of our project. It is exciting to be able to strategize action that may help this issue improve in the long run. By the same token, the subject of food access is a multi-faceted, contentious conversation that has a lot of potential for failure. While I have been rooted in Pittsburgh my whole life, I was not very familiar with the McKees Rocks/Stowe township community (also known as Sto-Rox). I also had fear that my expertise would not be sharpened enough to come to any valuable conclusion for this project. 

After allowing myself to have doubt, I transformed my thoughts into optimistic, forward thinking. The first four weeks of the internship have been the time where we diagnosed the issue, began learning the community, and ultimately created our plan for a deliverable. Some days I would stop and wonder how exactly our efforts would pan out in the grand scheme of the program. Were we taking the right steps of action? Were we going to ask the right questions in meetings that lead to valuable answers? Aaron and I have been meeting with community stakeholders who have helped us compile a lot of valuable information for our strategic plan. I feel that we are finally at a point where we know exactly what we are going to bring forward, and have built a good foundation for the rest of the summer. There were times during these past two weeks where I truly felt the passion for this project ignite. Meeting with likeminded individuals who have the knowledge and desire to work on food access with us is very empowering. The breakthrough moments had in the process of our work tells me that we are embarking on this project in a good way. Stay tuned for more in depth information on what the strategy behind our project beholds in the McKees Rocks community.