Youth for Healthy Schools

Success

  • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in Chicago secured commitments from the city to convert two large plots of land into urban gardens and is working with the city on the design of a new park. In December of 2014 LVEJO opened La Villita park which will have space for gardens.
  • Southwest Workers Union in San Antonio secured 53 changes to the school district food menu including more fresh vegetables, whole grains, and vegetarian options.
  • In 2011, the Baltimore Algebra Project launched a campaign deemed the Quality Food Justice Campaign (QFJC). The campaign was based on Right #8 of the National Student Bill of Rights which demands that students and youth shall have the right to healthy and high quality food in schools. The campaign’s overarching goal was to create scratch-cooking kitchens to facilitate healthy meals in schools while also addressing secondary goals such as competitive foods, and salad bars. The QFJC ultimately won a school based policy in a local high school 1) banning the sale of competitive foods during school hours 2) establishing nine new salad bars in high schools and 3) a commitment from the district to begin working towards scratch-cooking kitchens as a model for how to produce healthy school food.
  • Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools secured an agreement with the school district to provide fresh local fruits and vegetables at least four times per week in all schools. They also secured an agreement with their school food provider to place local fresh food icons on their products and increase vegetarian food options.  Recently, our collective voted on a really important decision where we all decided to invest 50% of our stipend into the farm and our collective so that we can purchase the seeds and tools we need to farm. This investment is a symbol of our commitment to each other and to the collective as we continue to struggle together. Right now, our food justice collective is in the middle of finalizing our farm design. This season we will be growing: strawberries (yellow and red ones), watermelon, guava, avocadoes, tomatoes, okra, green onions, carrots, peaches, sugarcane, bananas, soy beans, bell peppers, thai-wing beans, and peanuts. When we are ready to harvest we will be voting on selling prices and then the VEGGI farmer’s cooperative (This organization and Rethink are the organizations that created the Food Justice Collective) helps us sell our produce into the city to different restaurants and food co-ops/grocery stores. Because we are a co-op, our collective will retain 80% of revenue and then re-invest 20% back into the co-op in order to help purchase equipment and seeds for the next season. We will be voting on how to distribute the 80% to our collective members since this will serve as our pay.
  • Youth United for Change in Philadelphia, PA secured the creation of a School Food Youth Advisory Board to provide input to the School Food Division and work toward goals like providing nutritional information for school meals, and ensure that healthy, high quality food is served.
  • In 2014, InnerCity Struggle championed and won the Wellness Centers NOW two campaigns at the Los Angeles Unified School Board; the Equity is Justice and the Wellness Centers NOW Resolution. The Equity is Justice campaign served to create an equitable formula that assess communities with high need of resources to be prioritized when Prop 30 Local Control Funding Formula is enacted. That paved the way for the Wellness Centers NOW Resolution to pass unanimously, utilizing voter-approved renovation bond funds to construct Wellness Centers at Eastside high schools where primary and secondary healthcare services can become financially accessible to low income residents.
  • For the last several years, Padres & Jóvenes Unidos organized to expand free school breakfast programs because there is a proven correlation between hunger, health and learning, yet many of our students are going hungry, which contributes to the achievement gap experienced by poor students of color. In 2013, we joined a broad effort to pass HB-1006, the Breakfast After the Bell (BATB) bill, which ensures schools increase access to breakfast by eliminating the barriers that disproportionately impact low-income students.  Under HB-1006, beginning this school year, all schools with 80% or more of the student body eligible for free or reduced-price lunch began offering breakfast to all students for free after the morning bell rings to increase access to breakfast.  Schools with 70% or more qualifying students are scheduled to do the same during school year 2015-16. Colorado schools that implemented BATB reported significant reductions in tardiness, visits to the nurse and improvements in student behavior and alertness.  Despite the success of this bill, BATB was under attack by an onslaught of republicans in the legislature. Earlier this year they introduced a bill (HB-1080) to eliminate the second phase of implementation of the Breakfast after the bell. This was an attack on working families of color. Our youth and parent leaders organized and testified at the Colorado State Capitol against this bill. The passage of HB- 1080 would have meant that an estimated 72,459 Colorado students would have lost the opportunity to receive a free school breakfast.

Findings from the First Year of the Healthy Communities Initiative