Schools Work Group Remobilizes with an Ambitious Agenda

The Detroit Food & Fitness Schools Work Group gathered earlier this month at the Detroit Public Schools’ Office of School Nutrition after an almost yearlong hiatus.

The group outlined two main goals to work on this year: 1) to develop priorities and an advocacy work plan around Federal child nutrition policy and 2) to identify ways spearhead, track and support Good Food in early childhood settings and promote healthy first foods for infants.

As part of our child nutrition advocacy work, we will identify parent and youth engagement opportunities with DFFC partners and workgroups.  Utilizing our homegrown grass roots advocacy model, we will conduct policy trainings for community members and develop a plan for community input to the child nutrition policy process.  A number of local and national groups are a resource to the Work Group for advocacy materials and legislative updates including:

  • Michigan’s No Kid Hungry Campaign led by the United Way of Southeastern Michigan
  • FRAC (Food Research and Action Council), a national anti-hunger organization that lobbies on behalf federal programs that impact food and nutrition,
  • Urban School Food Alliance, a group of the nation’s largest school districts created to offer public school students healthy and delicious meals while keeping food costs low, and
  • National Farm to School Network, which provides a voice for the farm to school movement and information and resources about national, state and local policies that impact farm to school.

The Schools Work Group will also gather feedback through a convening in August with local food groups. The priorities letter will be completed, presented and disseminated. A policy boot camp will also be held for the general public, targeting those most affected by the current federal child nutrition provisions.

The process will cover much of the same framework as the DFFC’s engagement work on federal agriculture policy in 2013-14.

The Work Group’s other major work will focus on replicating good food practices implemented at DPS to the pre-Kindergarten setting.  We will identify outreach opportunities with early childhood providers and identify leverage opportunities in federal child nutrition policies and new Head Start performance standards.  A convening of early childhood providers is planned for early fall.

Anyone interested in more information or joining the schools Work Group should contact DeWayne Wells, DFFC director.

Present at the July 1 meeting were Ashley Atkinson, Keep Growing Detroit; Skyla Butts, DPS; Linda Campbell, community organizer; Melinda Clynes, DFFC; Ebony Roberts, JFM Consulting; DeWayne Wells, DFFC; and Betti Wiggins, DPS.

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