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Word & Image: Sequoia Ross, 39, Program Coordinator at Tricycle Gardens 

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Scott Elmquist

"I was talking to Sally [Schwitters], the director at Tricycle Gardens, about getting involved. Then last Mother’s Day came around and the Lord said you’ve got to turn in your resignation today to Stratford [University], where I worked.

"Sally called and said: “Do you want to apply for the job we have open? We have the corner store program position, making deliveries of fresh produce to corner stores.”

"That was it. When everything’s that easy, I know it’s the right thing for me. After I’d turned in my resignation, I didn’t tell anyone. I stepped out in faith completely to do this.

"I started last June and it’s been one opportunity after another. I’m building relationships with store owners, breaking cultural barriers, breaking language barriers with Koreans, Muslims and Iranians in the community.

"The feedback I get from people when I do tastings in the community is amazing. [But] I did a collard greens coleslaw and they said “These collards are cold.” Some things they just want simple. I was schlepping hundreds of watermelons to stores where many of them have delis, so it seemed smart to start cutting them up and selling them that way. It’s just easy things like that, so when people come in looking for a little watermelon, they can use their [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] benefits. I did a demonstration of a watermelon and feta salad for something different.

"It’s so satisfying. I felt like I was making an impact on the community, not through books but through food, teaching people to prepare something healthy and good for you, especially in stores where so much of the food is full of preservatives.

"I look for every opportunity to erase the hurdles to eating good food. I spend a lot of time on education, preparing healthy food for stores where so much is processed. I’m a firm believer in baby steps. Right now, they’re eating fried onions on subs, but maybe eventually they’ll eat raw ones in salad. It’s all about the outreach. You’ve got to meet people where they are."

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