Dynamic Partnership is a Catalyst for Growing Healthy Food and Building Strong Communities
December 11, 2020
Throughout the pandemic, HSC has worked hard to connect parents to the resources they need. One major issue confronting Chicago families, especially those in Black and Latinx communities, is food insecurity. Recently, HSC partnered with a group of food growers, known as the Chicago Grows Food Collaborative, on the Grow Your Groceries Campaign, which provides residents in hard hit zip codes with tools and materials, known as Grow Bags, that they can use to start growing healthy food at home. By leveraging HSC’s relationships with parents at Chicago schools this initiative has been able to connect parents, caregivers and school staff with the tools and supplies they need to plant gardens and grow their own food.
The partnership between HSC and Chicago Grows Food has provided schools and families at 40 CPS schools with supplies that include cloth bags, potting soil, vegetable seedlings, seed packets and an activity booklet. One school, Wadsworth Elementary, which has a Space to Grow schoolyard, participated in the program at such an impressive level that over 50% of the student body took part in receiving the grow kits. Alison Hebert, a Wadsworth teacher, shared, “[This has] been an exciting addition to our virtual learning environment. Our STEM scholars understand that they are caring for a living thing, and are learning the plants’ basic needs.” And the students’ excitement about the kits is spilling over across the school. Wadsworth Principal Dr. Rashid Shabazz says that the school staff are taking care of a kit for the building and watching it grow.
This partnership has also supported HSC’s broader goals around increased health, wellness and sustainability practices. Parent Leader, Rita Varela and her daughter, shared that the grow bags have been a great way to continue growing at home while students can’t use school gardens. They’ve helped Rita’s daughter relax, learn how plants grow and increase her love for plants. “She spends everyday watering them and preparing the harvested vegetables of spinach, kale, and sweet peppers to make smoothies and omelettes.” Rita recommends that other parents cultivate plants in grocery bags at home because they require small indoor or outdoor spaces and can be reused and planted again with other seeds.
Healthy Schools Campaign is proud to partner with the Chicago Grows Food Collaborative on this campaign. To learn more about the collaborative, visit https://www.chicagogrowsfood.org/grow-your-groceries.