Lexington Co-op Supports MAP

By Dabreon Darby

Lexington Cooperative Market has decided that MAP will be its 2013 recipient for donations. Lexington Co-op member owners will now have the choice of donating their dividends (their individual share of profits) to MAP. Last year, over $5,000 was donated to a different local organization from Lexington Co-op’s member-owner dividends. Hopefully this year owners can top that amount!

MAP is an urban agricultural non-profit organization that holds local farms, jobs for youth, and supports regional farms in the Western New York area.  Just as owners of the food co-op help their communities, we too help out our regional community and the local food industry by selling our products and produce. MAP is a great choice for the Lexington Co-op’s support!

Youth Assessment of Buffalo Area Food Stores

My name is Javert Boudreau, and I am a sophomore at the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts. During the summer of 2013, I participated in MAP’s summer youth program. During this time, we discussed the health of a local area based on where the food comes from. To study this properly we worked with the UB Food Lab.

The Food Lab split us into four groups to observe the types of food carried by stores and the condition of said stores. This was important because it showed that the healthier looking the food and the stores are, the healthier looking the community surrounding it is. It also helped us identify food deserts, or areas with high food insecurity.

The audits relate in a small way to MAP’s mission to get healthy food to the community. The audits tell us what sorts of foods local stores sell, what we should sell more of, and where we should sell it. This can bring more business to MAP from people looking to get cheap, healthy food, but are unable to due to high prices in super markets or just a lack of the foods themselves. This in turn makes the neighborhood around MAP healthier, and can, on a basic level, make it a stronger, nicer place to live.

Click here to see pictures from the audit.

Take Charge of School Meals! Join HKHC-YAC and your School Wellness Team!

On Wednesday, October 23rd, over 200 members of the Buffalo community came out for the 2nd Buffalo Food Policy Summit.  The Food Policy Summit opened at 5:00 PM with Just Lead, an event hosted by the Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Youth Advisors Council (HKHC-YAC).  The Just Lead event focused on improving school meals in Buffalo and was MC’ed by a local farmer, Dan Oles. A variety of speakers were on the program including HKHC-YAC youth, a parent activist, and leaders from the Buffalo Public School district.  The speakers talked about how students, parents, and teachers can get involved in improving school meals through school wellness teams based at each Buffalo Public School (BPS).

Just Lead was a kick-off for school wellness teams in Buffalo meant to engage youth and community support for health and wellness initiatives in schools. Although any school (public,private,or charter) can benefit from having a school wellness team, each BPS school is mandated by the district to have a team. The school wellness teams will ensure there is a space for students, parents and teachers to get involved in implementing the district’s new Wellness Policy, making changes to things like school meals, and providing overall support for bringing about a healthier school community.

Using a facilitators guide developed by Action for Healthy Communities, HKHC-YAC will support student leaders to participate on their school wellness teams by identifying the needs of their school community and coming up with changes that are suitable for their school. The school wellness teams will not just work to improve school meals, instead each team will help develop an individual wellness plan for their school community through conducting a School Health Index. There may be support from local colleges and universities in conducting the School Health Index, and additionally, HKHC-YAC will support student leaders through a one day training and monthly meeting called Students Taking Charge (funding for a substitute will be provided to cover the faculty advisors absence). The date for the first Students Taking Charge training is scheduled for Thursday, November 21st, 2013.

Youth participating in HKHC-YAC are already recognized in Buffalo for their leadership on issues important to teenagers. This past Spring, HKHC-YAC members succeeded in securing two seats for youth on the newly formed Food Policy Council of Buffalo and Erie County. Two years ago, the HKHC-YAC youth worked with NFTA to expand bus service for students at Tapestry Charter School and increase the flexibility of the bus passes to better serve the needs of students. This year, HKHC-YAC is concerned with improving school meals. In a Buffalo News article dated October 22, one of the HKHC-YAC youth leaders, Bernard Lamar Rice, is quoted about his concerns regarding the current school meal program and his vision for healthier school meals. Click here to read the article.

We hope that the Buffalo community students,parents, and faculty will continue to support the work of HKHC-YAC by signing up to become an active member of the initiative and their School Wellness Team. To sign up or for more information, please contact Rebekah Williams at Rebekah@mass-ave.org or by phone at (716) 882-5327.

School Lunch: Cheap, Yet Healthy?

Hello, my name is Serge Muharareni and I am a student at Hutch-Tech High School.  I am writing about the issue that most people, especially parents and teachers, should be concerned about, school lunches.

School lunches are based on a cheap budget, $2.86 per lunch, which is canceling out the importance of students to eat healthy.

When I first came to the U.S. from Senegal, I always ate the school lunches, but I never liked their appearance.  I used to think that it was because I wasn’t familiar with the food.  Four years later, the schools are serving the same kinds of food and it just hasn’t gotten any better.

It is a good thing that most of the lunches don’t have much sugar to ensure against diabetes, but the fat in the food isn’t any better.  The food seems weird to me most of the time and it doesn’t even taste right.  For example, some of the burgers they serve seem greasy and too oily.  More fruits and vegetables also need to be added.  By fruits I don’t just mean apples and grapes, I mean all of them, such as strawberries and pineapples.

Besides, what could a person eat for lunch with only $2?  School lunches need to improve and be based on the needs of the human body, not on how cheap they are.