This semester we offered our first Roots for Peace direct action course at Lincoln High School. In this particular 6 week class we stepped away from the garden in order to focus on the analysis of food justice issues and the development of a project(s) to create change.
Students looked at an array of issues. They were particularly appalled by the unhealthy ingredients corporations sneak into our supposed “healthy” foods, the mounds of sugar lurking in soft drinks, the fact that their community doesn’t have a farmer’s market, AND the lack of access to a school lunch menu on campus. They decided to take action on all of these! They took on the role of nutrition peer educators. Luring peers in with diced apples and peanut butter they asked, “Which peanut butter do you prefer? Jiffy or Shruders? Skippy or this unpopular brand?” Peers always chose the popular brands and then were told they contained hydrogenated oils. Oil demonstrated with the use of Crisco. “Skippy has THAT type of oil!?” students asked. “Yup,” was the response with heads nodding.
Students also wrote the last two weeks of the winter school lunch menu and posted it on the cafeteria wall AND they circulated a petition for a farmer’s market in Lincoln Heights. They got over 100 signatures! We were reminded of how powerful young people can be when they gain awareness around a social justice issue like food justice and community health. We are very much looking forward to the projects to come in 2013.
Written: 21st December 2012