Improving School Food on Chicago’s Southwest Side

  • February 20, 2018
Patricia Morales At The 2016 Parents United Principals' Breakfast

When she first got involved with Parents United for Healthy Schools several years ago, Patricia Morales was drawn to the fact that the healthy changes parents were making in schools were affecting thousands of children across the city of Chicago.

Her own three children, now in kindergarten, third grade and eighth grade, attend Brighton Park Elementary School on Chicago’s southwest side. Nearly 98 percent of the students who attend Brighton Park are considered low-income, and about 94 percent of the student body is Latino.

Brighton Park has been making strides in offering students healthier food and creating a culture of wellness. For example, The school’s popular ice cream social has now been changed to a smoothie party.

This month, dozens of parent leaders, including Patricia, from Parents United are working with schools to complete a school food survey. This survey will collect parent feedback about the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) meal program at their children’s schools, and parents will help organize a day or two to collect student feedback about their breakfast and lunch experience. This survey comes at an especially important time as the district’s school meal food service contract is up for renewal.

For Patricia, knowing what her children are eating at school helps her provide consistent messages at home. “It’s important know exactly what our students are eating in the school so we can reinforce that at home,” she says.

Patricia recognizes the importance of and power of organized parents. “Working together is how we create change; working alone we can’t do it” she says.