Thomas Jefferson High School in South Los Angeles has Health Academy Mini Farm Stands thanks to a great idea from the students. Lots of kids miss Breakfast in the Classroom. Now, teachers encourage hungry kids to choose a healthy snack from the Health Academy Mini Farm Stand basket.
How it started
In 2014, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) implemented the Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC) program in all schools. The BIC program was a unique opportunity for all students to receive free breakfast. Less than 40% of students, however, were participating in the BIC program. A number of factors contribute to these low participation rates. Two reasons for this is the students’ late arrival to school causing them to miss BIC, as well as students choosing to eat unhealthy food.
The Legion of Health student team idea
The National Health Foundation (NHF) partnered with Thomas Jefferson High School (TJHS) in South Los Angeles to implement a Health Academy program. The program, comprised of 38 TJHS students, allowed youth to participate in one of four teams in a youth-led research project of their choice.
The Legion of Health team wanted to do two things:
- Decrease food waste
- Increase access to healthy snacks
They had the idea to do this by using the surplus fruit and non-perishable food items from the BIC program for their “Health Academy Mini Farm Stand” pilot project.
The Mini Farm Stand
The students leading the project recruited teachers to assist with pilot testing the project in a few classrooms. They asked teachers to encourage students to select a healthy snack from the farm stand basket when they were hungry. The teachers also managed a tracking system within each classroom to capture the results.
The students had plenty of school support. The TJHS Cafeteria Manager helped the students capture data and helped them draft a pilot plan. The TJHS Assistant Principal provided initial school support for the project. The Assistant Principal also supported the Legion of Health team’s advocacy efforts for schoolwide implementation the following year.
Health Academy Mini Farm Stands have been implemented schoolwide at TJHS. They are also at a neighboring high school, Nava College Preparatory Academy. The success of the pilot project has garnered attention from LAUSD’s Food Services Director. The Director has expressed interest in bringing this to the LAUSD school board to expand the pilot to additional schools. The Legion of Health team plans to advocate for LAUSD district-wide expansion after meeting with the LAUSD School Board.
This article was written and submitted by the California Department of Public Health, a SNAP-Ed Implementing Agency. The National Health Foundation partners with the California Department of Public Health to implement SNAP-Ed programming. For more information, please contact Julie Tolentino or 213-351-7833.