Why We’re Thankful for The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project

November 23, 2015

It’s the time of year to give thanks, and here at Healthy Schools Campaign, we’re thankful for our partners that help us move our work forward both in Chicago and nationally. See more posts in this series.

Our Cooking up Change program is about much more than the competition featuring delicious school meals the student chefs produce. It’s about elevating student voices in the conversation about healthy school food.

And that’s where the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project comes in. The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project supports Healthy Schools Campaign in connecting youth with policy makers. In 2015, all of our student chefs competing in the Cooking up Change national finals took their message to a Capitol Hill briefing on school food, a Senate tasting event and individual meetings with their Congressional representatives to speak about the importance of healthy school food.

The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project is focused on ensuring that all foods sold to young people in schools are safe and healthy. The project has done extensive research into both the barriers to serving healthier foods and the strategies for overcoming them and work to promote policy that supports continued progress.

Allowing students to share their messages about school food is important because they are the ultimate consumers of the food itself. “Perceptions of students’ acceptance—or lack thereof—is one of the primary barriers to effectively serving healthier meals in schools,” says Jessica Donze Black, director of the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project. “Engaging students in developing, preparing and promoting healthy and delicious foods is an effective strategy both to overcome these perceptions and support progress moving forward.”

HSC has partnered with the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project since 2011 when we jointly held our first Cooking up Change congressional briefing. Since then, our partnership, as well as our outreach to Capitol Hill, has grown every year. We’ve added a senate briefing, organized personal congressional office visits with the students and even hosted events in student local cities. The Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project has been an important part of efforts to expand the important messages for student health and engagement.

Thanks to the Kids’ Safe and Healthful Foods Project and Jessica Donze Black for all they do to help extend the positive messages of Cooking up Change to policy makers and to help build momentum for healthy school food nationwide.