Week 2 is now complete and what a week it was (check out me & my team in our Get HYPE Philly! gear).
To give you the highlights:
– First visit – heading across the bridge to Camden and helping kids learn about the food environment. When asked about the food environment in their community – it was mainly fast food and pizza places. They do not have a grocery store nearby and they use the corner stores for food shopping. Is there a healthy way to accomplish the same tasty meals inexpensively? Yes and to prove it – we made healthy pizzas! The amazing part of this experience was that the kids were definitely not feeling the toppings (onions, peppers, spinach) BUT we encouraged each of them to try at least 1 and guess what – there was no pizza leftovers! This was an awesome visit – maybe because I also was asked if I was a college grad interning – ok stop laughing there.
– Next visit – was to Hunter & McKinley schools to work with the HYPE team educating the children on food marketing. What did I learn? That the food and beverage industry disproportionately targets black and Hispanic youth with unhealthy snack food advertising. Given that youth of color suffer from higher rates of obesity and diet-related diseases (like diabetes) – this snack food advertising likely intensifies health issues affecting their communities. Working for a company that wants people to do more, feel better, live longer and has a focus in diabetes AND as a mom- this uneven targeting had me upset. However, I got to watch the youth get the light bulb moments of what to watch out for and it made me grateful that GSK is supporting this work through our impact grants.
– Up next was to a Farmers Market where I got to see 1 of the 200+ The Food Trust runs and a cooking demonstration. The farmers market is a simple yet impactful initiative. It brings local farmers into urban, lower income areas. But what The Food Trust does is beyond selling fresh fruits and veggies – they set up the infrastructure so the farmers can accept SNAP (food stamp) benefits (oh and you get extra Food Bucks for using your benefits at a market to buy fresh fruit & veggies), they have a cooking demo that allows anyone to attend to receive free Philly Food Bucks to spend at the market, and they even bring in Lankenau to perform health screenings. Talk about taking advantage of a simple concept!
– Last trip – the Philly Feast Fest – I worked a table on water access in Philadelphia schools – are you thinking the same thing as I was – what?! We are a developed country and we have water access issues? Believe it or not while the agenda isn’t the same as Flint, Michigan with the water source issues – Philadelphia schools do not have easy access to clean water (think broken water fountains, trust issues, not allowed to go to the water fountains, or not allowed to have water bottles at their desk). The Food Trust is leading the charge for hydration systems with supporting policies in every school. Get HYPE Philly! (GHP!) advocated and won getting 3 hydration stations in every school. Check out one of the GHP! youth leaders getting the Mayor of Philadelphia to support the cause!
The learning curve is steep but I am loving every minute of it! There are minutes I am overwhelmed by all I inadvertently ignored around me. And than I remember that change starts with self and self-awareness so at least awareness of my ignorance is a step in the right direction.