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Wellness Champions: Making a Difference for Better Health

| California

Dec 13, 2018

The Challenge

The Bayview community has a rich African American history. It is in southeastern San Francisco and is a working-class neighborhood. The community has limited access to fresh produce and healthy food options. It also has limited clean and safe playgrounds and parks.

Dr. Carver Elementary School (DCE) is in Bayview. Students there are flooded with marketing of less nutritious foods and poor health choices. Recently, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) passed a strong Local School Wellness Policy. This policy encouraged a healthier environment at schools. However, at DCE, staff turnover was so high, that the school did not prioritize implementing the policy. 

The Solution

In 2015, DCE got a new principal. Emmanuel Stewart brought a passion for physical activity. He also believes in the link between wellness and test scores. Mr. Stewart developed a diverse School Wellness Committee (SWC). The committee included the school secretary, nurse, teachers, and family liaisons. He worked in partnership with the SFUSD’s Office of School Health Programs (OSHP). The OSHP receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds through the San Francisco Department of Public Health’s Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Program (NEOPP).

The SWC studied the school wellness policy. Then they communicated the food and beverage standards to the school community. They encouraged students to be physically active. The OSHP provided nutrition curricula to teachers with classroom lessons. The OSHP also provided Harvest of the Month tastings to support the nutrition standards. The SWC worked with Student Nutrition Services to provide healthy breakfasts and suppers to classrooms. All students had access to healthy meals throughout the day.

The Results

DCE is now supporting healthy eating and physical activity. The school now has a commitment to implementing the Local School Wellness Policy. The school launched a monthly Wellness Champion award. This award recognizes staff, students, and family members who contribute to school wellness.

High staff turnover resulted in staff being unfamiliar with the School Wellness Policy. To solve this, the SWC reviews a section of the wellness policy each month, and provides resources to new staff.

In 2017, to further wellness work, the SFUSD collaborated with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority. They started a citywide Wellness Champion campaign. The campaign received funding from a Target Corporation grant. The very first honoree of this campaign was the DCE school Principal, Mr. Stewart!

Sustaining Success

Short-term goals are to:

  • honor wellness champions and leaders in the DCE school community
  • support the implementation of a Local School Wellness Policy
  • include compliance with nutrition education standards and objectives in the Wellness Policy

The NEOPP continues to support and promote the DCE wellness Team. The Team is now an important part of the DCE community.

Stories from the Field

The California Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) aims to inspire and empower underserved Californians to improve their health and the health of their communities through healthy eating and active living. The program facilitates this through education and community change in partnership with many others.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) shares this story to highlight a snapshot of some of the California SNAP-Ed work conducted by local health departments and partners across this Golden State.


CDPH funds local health departments, 57 county and three city health departments, to conduct SNAP-funded obesity prevention programming across the state. The UC CalFresh Nutrition Education Program, California Department of Aging, and Catholic Charities of California, Inc. also fund local agencies to conduct programs that align with the California SNAP-Ed mission. The California Department of Social Services oversees the collective California SNAP-Ed work.

Expanding our Reach

We hope these community stories inspire you to envision how to create a healthier tomorrow!

This article was submitted by the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Branch of the California Department of Public Health. For more information, please contact Mark Elkin.

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