‘Food as medicine’: Md. campaign asks gardeners to donate vegetables to breast cancer patients

This is part of WTOP’s continuing coverage of people making a difference from our community authored by Stephanie Gaines-Bryant. Read more of that coverage.

Eating from the earth is the healthiest way to eat. That’s why two Maryland organizations are asking you to use your green thumb to help breast cancer patients.

Laura Crandon is the President and Founder of Touch4Life. (Courtesy Laura Crandon)

The Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and Touch4Life, a nonprofit committed to breast health equity for women of color, have teamed up for the “Grow One, Give One” campaign to encourage people to grow their own vegetables and donate half to women with metastatic breast cancer.

“Fresh produce, and food as medicine, is so important to women on a breast cancer journey,” said Laura Crandon, president and founder of Touch4Life.

Touch4Life is committed to breast health equity and their mission is to increase breast health IQ for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities, and to eliminate the disparity in breast cancer outcomes that currently exist, Crandon said.

Crandon’s commitment to breast cancer awareness came after a mammogram gave her the “all clear” from a diagnosis. However, during a self-breast exam in the shower five months later, she discovered a welt on one breast. She was eventually diagnosed and treated for the disease in 2016 at the age of 47.

But she said the cancer came back and metastasized in her brain two years later, leading to three brain surgeries and a spate of clinical trial and targeted therapies. It’s a benefit that she said people who look like her don’t usually have.

Benita Swindell is the president of the Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. (Courtesy Benita Swindell)

The daughter of a “Hidden Figure” at the National Institutes of Health and a Negro League baseball player, Crandon said her parents always taught her to “open doors and make a difference for others.” And that’s what she did in founding the organization Touch4Life.

The organization wants to change the underrepresentation of Black women in clinical trials. Crandon said Black women, according to a study on breastcancer.org, account for about 12% of all new breast cancer cases but only 3% of participants in clinical trials.

Benita Swindell, president of the Psi Epsilon Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated located in Prince George’s County, said, “when you plant your own, you know where it’s coming from. Also, you have so much of it you can also donate it.”

People who make the (GOGO) Grow One, Give One pledge will be given seeding and care instructions. People who cannot grow produce can make a purchased donation of fresh produce.

The program kicked off last month at the Bowie Community Gardens in Bowie and will be running until the fall.

You can still sign up as a grower or as someone who is interested in receiving produce online. It’s part of the Psi Epsilon Omega AKA’s Growing Green Project and part of Touch4Life’s Be Fresh Initiative

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant

Stephanie Gaines-Bryant is an Anchor and Reporter for WTOP. Over the past 20 years, Stephanie has worked in several markets, including Baltimore, Washington, Houston and Charleston, holding positions ranging from newscaster to morning show co-host.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up