Vanessa Moreno knows what it’s like to feed a family on a tight budget. The fourth-year international development studies major watched her own mother, a single parent, do it when she was temporarily unemployed. Moreno is now chronicling on video the story of a single mother of five as she struggles to meet the same challenge.
Fellow UCLA senior Sanna Alas, a human biology and society major, knows the value that urban gardening can bring to a community. She is helping students at Jordan High School in Watts tell their story through film as they turn an abandoned plot of land into a community garden for their school.
Alas and Moreno, who started these projects in the fall quarter when they were taking a class on film-making for social change, are now expanding their documentaries, thanks to a $2,500 fellowship that each project received from the UC Global Food Initiative Student Fellowship Program. “This fellowship supports our project beyond the classroom,” said Alas. “We want to build upon it, make it bigger and include the voices of more people.”
Moreno’s team hopes to raise awareness of the issues faced by low-income and single parents and help motivate policymakers tighten up restrictions on advertising that markets food to children. “I know what it’s like to be constrained monetarily and nutritionally,”` said Moreno. “It surprises me that more people are not aware of the realities faced by people in their own neighborhoods.” It’s not true that poor people eat fast food because they’re lazy and don’t want to cook for themselves, she said.