Growing community: How Roots to Prevention is combating food insecurity in Camden

Paige Bates
Center for Cooperative Media
4 min readApr 24, 2023


The key to properly nourishing anything in life is an understanding of how things function at the root.

Healthy garden beds provide the foundation for bountiful harvests.

Strong health habits early in one’s youth are the best chance at aging gracefully and healthfully through adulthood. Grassroots community efforts, when properly supported, serve to leave long-lasting impacts on the environments they serve.

‘Roots to Prevention,’ a Camden-based non-profit organization, embodies these virtues in their work to broaden awareness of fresh food access.

Children who experience food insecurity are more likely to live in areas with low income and limited access to fresh food. Thus, RTP’s work to provide, develop, support, and demonstrate their initiatives to uplift health culture in the city of Camden is invaluable.

This cross-sectoral collaboration between various partners was founded in 2011. Partners include the Parkside Business and Community Partnership (PBCIP), Virtua Health, and Camden County Coalition of Healthcare Providers, among others, in the urban agricultural sect and the community at large, serve to combat the areas of deprivation in the community.

As the team grows — RTP creates solutions to identified barriers through urban agriculture, nutrition education, and a “Teaspoon of Love.’

Created in part with the County Health Department and iCreate Productions, the “Teaspoon of Love” fosters nutritional education on RTP’s Youtube channel. Camden families are challenged to cook a healthy meal and leave the studio with a video keepsake.

RTP also partners with the Food Trust for ‘Food Bucks’, providing eligible families with additional WIC/SNAP benefits specifically for purchasing fresh produce.

The ultimate hope is to add this locally grown produce by RTP and their many partners into corner stores, leveraging the resources and enabling a sales channel through Virtua’s healthcare system.

Produce grown by Camden, for Camden.

Creating a produce aggregation app will be essential for the success of this effort, as it will streamline back-end processes such as efficient programming, ordering, and invoicing for resident purchasing.

By continually creating new bonds while remaining connected to its many existing partners, Roots to Prevention highlights the belief in the mission of wellness across this Invincible community.

If you listen closely to plants, they tell you the secrets to growth. The recipe is the same, from plants to humans. Sunlight, movement, and proper nutrition are the building blocks for life. A key cornerstone for me is the farmer’s market Saturday and grocery store trips with my family. Love comes from the roots, the leaves, and in the blooms.

Through Stories Invincible, I am collaborating with others to address the lack of programs in our beloved city in an effort to bring essential resources to Camden — an oasis in the food desert. You will meet some of the groups making a positive change here, and I hope you interact and continue to follow the journey of everyone included.

My sincerest thanks to everyone involved and to you, the reader, for joining us.

👋 Want to learn more about Stories Invincible? Visit the project homepage!

Paige Bates is a 2023 Stories Invincible reporting fellow. She is also a student of history, daylighting as an archives assistant at Rutgers Camden’s Robeson Library. She is a curator and performer on the local stage, championing the arts, literacy, and unbridled access to clean water in her community.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a primarily grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with operational and project funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, NJ Civic Information Consortium, Rita Allen Foundation, Inasmuch Foundation and the Independence Public Media Foundation. For more information, visit