Connecting Kids to Healthy Food in Schools
Building Healthy Communities
September 21, 2018
What a child eats is a fundamental building block for health that will shape them for the rest of their lives.
A child with an inadequate diet can suffer from a variety of health problems, miss more days of school, and have lower test scores. Schools are a primary driver in young people’s knowledge of, attitudes about, and access to food, but they require on-the-ground staff to implement activities that promote a healthy food environment, and too often they lack the human capital to do so. FoodCorps places trained AmeriCorps members in schools full time to introduce or improve healthy food education and access. Since 2015, NYSHealth has helped connect FoodCorps with local leaders of New York City public schools, bolstering its reach and impact. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded FoodCorps a grant to accelerate its ability to bring healthier foods to elementary schools across New York City.
Under this grant, FoodCorps built on efforts to connect New York City elementary school students to healthy food. It provided technical assistance to and worked closely with school district leaders, industry stakeholders, and school meal experts to coordinate citywide initiatives that ensure children across the entire New York City school system have access to healthier, locally procured food. FoodCorps worked with the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the DOE’s Office of School Support Services to pilot a redesign of school cafeterias that promotes inclusion, health, and equity. It also provided oversight, mentoring, and training to a new cadre of FoodCorps service members working in NYSHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund communities of East Harlem and Brownsville, as well as in the South Bronx, to create a healthier school food environment. FoodCorps tracked and evaluated data from its project activities, combining it with data that it collects nationally, to further build the case for federal and state policy reforms to foster healthy school food environments.