Tackling inequities in Louisiana’s food system.
Since 2011, Propeller has incubated and accelerated 300+ ventures through the Impact Accelerator and Social Venture Fund. Collectively, they have generated over $291million in external financing and revenue and created 485+ full- and part-time jobs. Our businesses and nonprofits overall have an 84 percent survival rate, compared to the national average of 84 percent.
Food Focus Area
In a city famous for its food, Propeller envisions a local food system that is economically sustainable and vibrant, where local food products are manufactured here and shared with the world, building a stable local economy that ensures all its residents have enough to eat. Through our Impact Accelerator, Propeller works with entrepreneurs who are starting or growing consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, with a focus on sustainable, healthy, and affordable products made with locally-sourced ingredients. Together with our ventures and partners, we are working to grow New Orleans’ food manufacturing system, prioritizing products that preserve our city’s unique food culture, advance equity, and positively impact the environment. Propeller leads research initiatives related to increasing access to nutritious food for K-12 students, and advocates for specific policies and regulations that can increase equitable access to fresh, healthy, local food for all New Orleanians.
Healthy School Food Collaborative Research
From 2011-2022, Propeller has coordinated multi-year research and intervention initiatives to improve healthy food access and consumption for New Orleans public school children. Through collaborations with the Healthy School Food Collaborative LLC, countless school leaders, staff, students and families, the Louisiana Public Health Institute, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, K. Allen Consulting, and many others, we have influenced the New Orleans school feeding ecosystem, resulting in increased healthy food access and nutritional quality of meals. We have also uncovered a number of factors within school policies and operations that have significant impacts on students’ healthy school food consumption.
Below are observations and recommendations that we propose based on the analysis of our research findings at different phases of this project:
- Many low-cost or no-cost interventions exist to support students to consume more of their healthy food offerings.
- We encourage school administrators to schedule recess or physical activity options prior to the lunch meal to increase students’ healthy food consumption.
- We recommend that school administrators do not implement punitive lunch room practices, such as silent lunch, which has a direct negative impact on meal consumption levels. Behavior management tactics that do not foster social emotional learning and positive cafeteria environments are, furthermore, not aligned with trauma-informed education and trauma-informed nutrition principles. These practices can directly harm a child’s physical and mental state as well as long term nutrition outcomes. Read more about trauma-informed nutrition here.
- We encourage school administrators to consistently monitor food quality and to include criteria for improved food quality standards in the RFP rubric for school food services. Sample RFP rubric language can be found here. If a Food Service Management Company (FSMC) is consistently failing to meet standards of quality, consider switching vendors and including a provision in the contract to allow for cancellation of contracts when food quality standards are not met.
- We recommend that schools integrate nutrition education for staff, students and families to positively impact consumption and an increased awareness of the importance of eating a healthy lunch.
Full reports for each phase of research can be accessed in the links below:
COVID School Feeding Report
As a continuation of the Healthy School Food work, Propeller recognized during the COVID-19 Pandemic that school feeding operations were significantly disrupted. In partnership with W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Xavier University, Propeller conducted research into the lessons learned and strategies that schools in New Orleans used to distribute food to students and families.
To facilitate continuation of school feeding during COVID-19 school lockdowns, U.S. Congress authorized waivers to allow for school meals to be picked up by parents/guardians in non-school settings. We summarized school meals distribution and characterized reach in socially vulnerable neighborhoods in New Orleans, a city prone to environmental disasters, with a city-wide charter school system, and historically high levels of child poverty and food insecurity.
Full report can be accessed in the like below:
COVID School Feeding 2023 Report