Help change local food systems by advocating for schools in your community to integrate locally sourced foods into school meals! Farm to school programs can help advance nutritional and educational equity for kids. If you live in Oregon, you can start by directing your community schools to procurement and funding resources provided by the Oregon Farm to School and School Garden Network and The Oregon Department of Education.
Take action!! Join forces with local organizations that are engaging in food advocacy work to influence policy makers and advance change. This starts with reaching out to organizations and asking where they could use support or energy. As Oregon Food Bank says, “ending hunger starts with community power and a commitment to ending the unfair systems that create unequal access to food.”
Find your state representative and let them know you are worried about rising rates of chronic disease and what it could mean for your community’s long-term health and stability.
Can’t find a mutual network in your area? Develop your own! Look online for guides on how to start a mutual aid network or reach out to an existing one in the state. Establishing a mutual aid network can ensure that those most vulnerable in your community are provided the food and goods they need.
Don’t have a Veggie Rx near you? Research models in nearby communities. Talk to your local farmers market, public health department, or health clinic to gauge interest in starting one. Find a group that has been discussing and offer your support.
Talk to your local grocery store about offering produce from local farms, especially from farmers of color. If your workplace has a cafeteria, ask about including produce from local farms.
Most of us remember the fundraisers that encourage kids and their families to eat at a certain local fast food restaurant that will donate a portion of profits to the school on specific days. Ask the school how much they made last year. Then get a group of parents together and approach local businesses not promoting unhealthy meals if they would be interested in a similar arrangement. Maybe the local grocery store or a restaurant with healthy meal options would be interested.
Find local groups that are actively working to oppose the proposed budget cuts. A good place to start is your local food bank or county public health office. Ask what you can do to support their efforts. The more voices are combined, the louder the message will be heard in Washington, D.C.
Do you work for a school? From food service providers to principals and presidents, we can all find a way to influence nutrition on school campuses. Teachers and professors can find ways to include nutrition in their curriculum. Leaders can support students, employees and staff when they bring ideas to improve the nutritional culture. Food service providers can find healthier methods for preparing foods and can push for healthier options from food suppliers.
If this is the first you’ve heard of heart disease risk being established before birth, you’re probably not alone. Find a local researcher or physician who is familiar with the science, or a recorded talk online (here’s a great TEDx talk) and host a get-together to share. Maybe your office hosts monthly seminars? Or your place of worship? Or just get a group of friends together for a pot-luck and discuss.
Are you part of a regular group or club? Why not have a gathering devoted to discussing the dietary guidelines? Find a local dietician through your health care provider, county public health office or local university and invite them to lead the discussion.
Tired of only being able to grab chips, candy or soda from the vending machine at work when the afternoon hungries hit? You’re probably not the only one. Find out who has the contract with the vending company, send out a survey to co-workers asking about their snack preferences, get on meeting agendas to discuss. Enough voices will let managers know they have a customer base for offering healthier snack options.
National programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children), plus lots of regional and local programs work to ensure equitable access to fresh nutritious foods for all. Find a local organization and volunteer. Learn about proposed legislation that could affect financing for these groups and write a letter to your elected official in support of the program. Vote for individuals who take a strong stance on increasing nutrition. Do you work for an organization that can take a stand on social issues,
Look into groups in your area that are advocating for change to the food culture. The local health department, health systems and non-profit agencies are great places to start. Find out whether they have volunteer opportunities, or whether you could help by writing to an elected official or attending a public meeting to show your support for issue they are trying to advance
Have you seen what is sold at sporting event concession stands lately? Chips, candy, nachos and soda. Go to an event at your local middle or high school and check out the selection for yourself. Then, join with parents, community members and the school board to advocate for some healthier options to be added that can still help the groups earn a profit.
Share the pregnancy plate with a friend.
Host a dinner party and serve only whole foods and, during dinner, share your inspiration for the menu – that nutrition during development provides the basis for eliminating vulnerabilities for chronic disease in later life.
Write a letter to an elected official stating your support for effective public policy that ensures easy access to fresh whole foods, especially for infants girls and women.
Notice how often snacks at work meetings involve cookies and soda? Talk to your co-workers about trying out fruit and sparkling water instead or have a contest – try different healthy snacks at meetings and vote on your favorites. Work toward setting a policy that food at meetings is centered on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Get a group of parents and community members together to encourage your local school to start a garden. It’s a great learning experience for kids that can be woven into lots of different subjects from health, to science, to reading. The produce the kids grow can be used in the school kitchen, and highlighted in the menu. Even better, arrange a cooking class demonstration for kids where they can help use the produce they grow,