The Role of Schools and other Public Institutions

Schools and other institutions such as churches, community associations, social service agencies, nursing homes, homeless shelters and missions, hospitals, home daycare centers, and before and after school programs can have major impact on the dietary habits and health of the community.  That impact can be made by purposefully educating the community as well as intentionally making healthy food options a priority.  These institutions are possibly the most direct ways to reach the greatest number of people.  As well, the growing nationwide interest in locally grown organic foods and value-added food products should be considered as an economic opportunity as it becomes necessary and is fitting that Detroiters seek independent employment.  Our community should also become the suppliers of healthy food choices to the institutions within our community.

Many school related groups have traditionally relied on candy sales to raise funds for parent groups, clubs and athletic teams.  Other fundraising options should be explored that do not promote excessive consumption of processed sugars.

Students attending Detroit schools should have the opportunity to plant, tend and harvest foods in school gardens.  Students working in school gardens eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than those who do not. Many schools across the nation are realizing that farm-fresh produce is superior to canned and frozen foods.  They are also realizing that supporting local or regional farmers helps to sustain local and regional food systems.  When children have a greater understanding of where foods come from, they generally develop a greater appreciation for those foods, and are more willing to try food choices that may not be considered popular.

Schools and other public institutions have the responsibility of educating the citizens of the City of Detroit about health and wellness. Newsletters, meetings, and other gatherings should regularly feature information about diet, exercise and other components of health and wellness.

Block clubs, community associations and churches should be encouraged to partner with the City of Detroit to develop a network of community gardens.  These gardens will increase the amount of fresh, affordable, nutritious food available to Detroiters, will promote community building and intergeneration communication and will help to improve the city’s aesthetics and air quality. Additionally, publicly owned land should be made available whenever possible to develop community gardens.

Actions Needed:

  • Schools and other public institutions should encourage young people to pursue careers in agriculture, aquaculture, animal husbandry, bee-keeping and other food related fields, so as to reduce the dependency of Detroiters on others for food.
  • Schools and other public institutions should eliminate soda pop, candy, gum, and “foods” with high sugar content, artificial preservatives, and artificial dyes from vending machines.  They should be replaced with high-quality snacks and beverages that promote health and wellness such as fruit, nuts, granola bars, wholegrain chips, 100% juices and water.
  • Schools should be encouraged to develop food curriculum for pre-K through 12th grade and beyond. Curriculum could include aspects of production, processing, healthy eating, and recycling and composting.
  • Every school should have a school garden that can provide food for their lunches.
  • Schools should require school lunch programs to incorporate fresh local and regional foods and develop relationships with those farmers who can provide educational opportunities for children.
  • Encourage the formation of health ministries in churches that includes a focus on developing healthy dietary habits.
  • Encourage churches to offer healthy choices at church functions, and incorporate church-sponsored gardens and healthy food preparation information as part of any food banks or programs.

Explore The Detroit Food Policy

The Detroit Food Policy was unanimously adopted by the Detroit City Council on March 15, 2008

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