4 October 2012
Louisiana has the second highest obestity rate in the nation. More than one-third of 10 to 17 year olds are overweight or obese, with low-income and minority children being disproportionately affected. Knowing that the majority of children receive 50% of their daily calories at school, we were determined to improve cafeteria food in southern Louisiana public schools. We succeeded! In our first year alone, we brought a healthy, delicious and affordable school lunch to over 20% of public school children in New Orleans, and over 1,000 more school children in Baton Rouge. In five years, our goal is to reach 50% of schoolchildren.
When we say healthy, we mean it. So far, 28 schools have signed on to our healthy food standards—no fried food, no high fructose corn syrup, no canned fruit or vegetables, no nitrates in meat, 5% local procurement, and fresh food that is scratch prepared daily! Students like Jonas Green, a 5th grader at ReNEW Schools’ Batiste Cultural Arts Academy, are already commenting on the food's improvement. "It's delicious," said Jonas, "I would eat this chow mein over chips for the rest of my life!" Teacher feedback includes noticeable changes in child behavior, such as less "sluggishness" after lunch time.
To help schools make this healthy lunch transition, Propeller recruited healthy food vendor Revolution Foods to New Orleans and provided seed funding necessary to launch the KIPP New Orleans Schools healthy meals School Food Authority (SFA), led by Propeller social entrepreneur James Graham. The healthy meals SFA allows individual charter schools to release a Request for Proposal (RFP) with the Propeller healthy food standards and to individually choose their own vendor. In total, Propeller is providing more than $190,000 in grant funding for schools to transition to a healthy food vendor through the generosity of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, and Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.