Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type



Disenfranchised communities have yet to become full beneficiaries of the core values of the Constitution. Health inequities are rooted in the social barriers connected to racism, classism, and sexism. Furthermore, marginalized groups in Washington, District of Columbia (D.C.), reside in food deserts. Urban agriculture has gained exposure as a working solution to the epidemic of food deserts in underserved urban communities. The East Capitol Urban Farm is one of the urban food hub extensions of the University of the District of Columbia College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences. It operates in a food desert in Ward 7 of D.C. as a holistic movement that aims to dismantle the social determinants that perpetuate the inequities of nutrition-related illnesses. The ECUF promotes a food systems approach to health equity through sustainable food production, food preparation and nutrition guidance, food distribution, waste reduction, and economic opportunity. Community programs for families, youth, and seniors encourage them to lead purpose-driven lives through health behavior change, environmental responsibility, and service. With low capacity as a barrier to progress, community mobilization engages partners in the organization of activities to improve the food security, nutritional status, and fitness of D.C. residents. Historically, achievements in social justice and civil rights were attained through participatory involvement at the grassroots level. Moreover, racially and ethnically diverse populations represent the fastest-growing demographics and experience barriers to health equity. The food hubs value ethnic crop production and culturally relevant nutrition education, where individuals adapt to healthy eating through the lens of their heritage. Lastly, reflections on agriculture through images of slave plantations and exploited immigrant workers do not constitute pleasant images of equality for people of color. Therefore, those images must be reframed as positive social change through sustainable agriculture that promotes optimal nutrition and economic advancement.