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High school sophomore Lalah lives in North Minneapolis. Last summer, she got involved with a food systems program known as Full Lives launched by Greater Twin Cities United Way through a gift from the General Mills Foundation.

The program has already had a big impact on Lalah’s life- she is part of Green Garden Bakery, a youth-run bakery promoting health and sustainability through selling vegetable-based desserts. She had no prior experience gardening, cooking, or baking before joining Green Garden.

Lalah got involved because it sounded intriguing- her neighborhood didn’t have any gardens at the time. “Around parts of North Minneapolis, it’s a food desert,” she said. “There isn’t a grocery store within a mile of here that I can walk to and get fresh produce.”

That prompted Lalah to start working in the garden near her home, where she discovered she didn’t need a grocery store to get fresh fruits and vegetables. Lalah also started making connections between what she planted and what she ate. “If you don’t know where your food comes from, you could be eating anything. But if you grow it yourself, you know where it came from.”

Lalah said through Greater Twin Cities United Way and Green Garden Bakery, she’s learned more than how to weed or use an oven. “Without this program, some of us would never meet or connect- it teaches our community to come together and make things like the garden happen.”

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