While Philadelphia’s food insecurity rate ranks above 20% overall as a whole, North Philadelphia and Kensington rates are more than 30%, according to a Feeding America study.
Located near Kensington and Lehigh avenues in a lot-space at 2713 Kensington Avenue, one community-centered organization aims to improve healthy food access in a fun way for all.
“The passion behind The F.U.N. Kitchen was becoming vegan myself and realizing I couldn’t just walk to the store to get something to eat anymore,” said Rai Lewis, who is the founder and vegan chef of The F.U.N. Kitchen.
This vegan and plant-based food company is on a mission to create access to vegan-based foods in Philadelphia’s most hard-hit food desert areas.
F.U.N. stands for: Feasible, Understandable, and Nourishing, which is derived from the ability to make healthy eating a part of everyday life.
“Sometimes, when I look around, it’s heartbreaking. A lot of our differences in how we live, how we treat ourselves, and how we love each other come from us being healthy,” said Lewis. “Not just being healthy in the sense of food.”
Lewis says when she looks around food desert areas like Kensington and North Philadelphia, there aren’t many places to eat a healthy meal, read a book at a bookstore, or have a regular conversation with people.
“I’m transferring that energy into The F.U.N. Kitchen to create just that. A place where people can come to have fun, they can eat healthily, and enjoy each other’s company,” Lewis added. “Just being amongst things that haven’t necessarily been the way of life before, but carrying it into a way of bigger and greater life ahead.”
Lewis and her team recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise their goal of $15,000 for their vision surrounding a 1,000 square foot outdoor vegan café and community garden in Kensington.
The raised funds go towards the revitalization and construction of this planned forever home, and to directly be a resource for those who need it most.
“It’s an educational garden and community-managed garden. Where people can come and grow the seeds and seed them through,” said Lewis. “It’s not just ‘here’s your vegan burgers or here’s your vegan food.’ But also, where the food comes from and different ways to incorporate it into your everyday diets.”
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