Hanson Hands - on against hunger
How One Local Musician is Changing the Tulsa Community
Just like any successful outdoor event, Food On The Move has all the necessities for a good time: live music, good food via local food trucks and even a few goodies to take home. The difference is, these goodies are fresh produce and provided on a pay-as-you-can basis. And oh yeah, so are the food trucks.
The brainchild of musician Taylor Hanson, Food On The Move was created to combat the problem of food deserts and to bring awareness to the community about the problem of hunger. For just over a year they have been hosting events and creating a place where people can come and celebrate community, take advantage of the local fare and even learn about healthier food habits. Their main focus is very simple: improving people’s lives by providing access to better food, and they are doing this by hosting Food On The Move events and ultimately “Trying to look at the entire ecosystem of health and hunger in the community,” said Hanson.
It was one of those blisteringly hot Oklahoma days, the kind where even the breeze has gone indoors to cool off, and people were gathered around the produce stand at Food On The Move’s location at Tulsa Community College. The stand was full of beautiful freshly picked beans and corn, so fresh that Hanson and a few other volunteers were in Bixby that very morning picking them. Combined with potatoes, peaches, onions, strawberries and limes, plus a few other things, customers had their fill of summer’s bounty, all at their fingertips.
It was also here at the produce stand that the Food Bank was doing a cooking demonstration. They were using the local, freshly picked beans and corn to prepare an easy-to-assemble succotash. People watched and learned how simple it was to use the provided ingredients to cook a healthy meal at home. Combined with recipe cards containing a delicious peach salsa recipe, shoppers could take home two healthy recipes, with fresh ingredients, all provided to them.
This event has a certain buzz, an unquantifiable energy that surrounded people as they were eating, shopping or listening to music. From the student volunteers passing out food, to the customers lining up for it, the spirit of the event was palpable and as the leader of the entire event, Hanson seemed to be the one setting the energy in motion. He knew nearly every volunteer by name, shook hands and took pictures with everyone who asked, which although it made it very hard to pin him down for our interview, made his genuine dedication to the work all that more obvious.
Food On The Move is continuing to build momentum and they are trying to create new patterns amongst communities and their residents. Ultimately, they hope to establish an environment where small communities in the Tulsa area see that there is need a need for better access to fresh food. Optimistically, seeing the crowds gathered at these events could set the wheels in motion and create a foundation that can “help foster a community that is ready for a permanent grocery store,” said Hanson.
Hanson is resolute that without all of the volunteers and community representatives helping to bring these events together, it would not be possible. Groups like the Tulsa Library, who bring out their mobile truck, or the health department and Tulsa Legal Aid, who are there to provide assistance. Plus, all of the people providing food like the food trucks and the Real Good Food Mobile Grocery Store.
Katie Plohocky, from the Real Good Food Mobile Grocery Store, says that it’s incredible to see people get energized about the produce. For example, during last year’s asparagus season some customers said that they had never had the opportunity to eat it, because it was always too expensive, but here they got to take it home and see how wonderful it can be. Ultimately, she says, these events have done a good job at “really bringing people together.”
“Taylor has a big picture,” said Plohocky, and if you ask Taylor what he sees as that big picture, to ultimately “make this community stronger,” said Hanson.
The idea of community extends further than creating a space where Tulsa citizens can come and find healthy food options. Further than making sure that Tulsa citizens are educated and well versed on the needs of their fellow community members. Even further than recognizing that this group of people who give their time and their resources are doing everything they can to educate both of those groups.
Food On The Move has an opportunity to be successful and expansive because “Tulsa is a place prime to thrive and pave the way for other cities,” said Hanson.
For more information about Food On The Move visit FoodOnTheMoveOK.com.