Coming “Face to Face” with Hunger in Germantown

The intersection of Germantown and Chelten Avenues is rarely short of hustle and bustle. Venture right around the corner on the 100 block of Price St., however, and a vastly different scene comes into view. Face to Face’s large outer facade is tucked into a quiet street lined with trees and residential homes. On a bright afternoon, a few patrons idled on the building’s front steps, conversing and catching up with one another after their weekly Saturday lunch. Take a closer look at what this organization is all about, and how the involvement of La Salle’s Explore Nutrition program is hoping to impact this neighborhood safe haven in a positive way.

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What’s for Dinner?

The sun began to set on a Monday afternoon in Olney, causing the temperature to drop little by little with each passing minute. For residents living in this neighborhood surrounding La Salle University, this signaled the dinner hour’s fast approach. Although there are a variety of selection to choose from here, with cuisines from all around the world (Chinese, Mexican, Caribbean, Jamaican, Middle Eastern), as well as the more traditional pizza and french fries, the overall quality of this food is sub-par to say the least.

Take out and fast food have become the norm in urban areas , with local pizza shops on every corner and those famous golden arches lighting up the streets at night. It is evident that eating at these establishments more than a few times a week can pose serious health risks such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

Armed with my iPhone 4, which has a 5 megapixel camera and dimensions of 2.3 x 4.5 x 0.4 in. (59 x 115 x 9 mm), I drove around the neighborhood to get a sense of the food preparation, distribution, and retail in the area.

One of the first things I noticed is that there is a local grocery store on practically every street corner. Usually locally owned, it is a typical store where you can buy a variety of food, from as simple necessities of milk and bread to a wide array of ethnic foods. Tavarez Grocery is located on Chelten Ave. at Heiskell St.

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I was surprised to find that in addition to having fried foods cooked in a small kitchen located behind the glass partition separating the workers from the customers, there was actually a variety of what looked to be fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheeses. After looking around for a few minutes, I concluded that many of the items were the same as those found in a larger supermarket and could surely be considered a go to place to gather ingredients to make a healthy, wholesome meal.
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This photo was taken at a McDonald’s ¬†located on Chelten Ave. This fast food establishment has unfortunately become the norm for those especially in more urban, low income areas. Places like McDonald’s cater to many peoples’ needs for a quick, cheap meal.

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Finally, there are a great number of food trucks parked on curbsides across the area. This one was taken on Germantown Ave., which is located outside the boundaries of La Salle’s NHNP; however, there are still many much like this one located in the Olney area.

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Food trucks, like fast food places, offer convenience, allowing people to buy food on the go in the midst of their busy, hectic day. Although the menu features mainly greasy fried foods such as hamburgers and cheesesteaks, many other food trucks I’ve seen around the area offer fresh fruit and smoothies, which could serve as a healthy alternative.

By riding around the community for no more than an hour on that cold, late afternoon, I think it is safe to assume that none of the food establishments I found were worthy of raving, five star reviews. The quality of food selection is poor, leaving local residents with very few choices if they wanted to at least attempt to live a healthy lifestyle.