During the 3rd Trimester, 7th graders have been engaged in a collaborative interdisciplinary Project Based Learning unit between Health and Humanities. The guiding question for the project is, “How can we make healthy and nutritious foods more accessible in our community?” In order to take action to this end, students researched what makes food healthy and nutritious (in Health with Jared), what the modern day barriers are to access, the historical legacies of these barriers, and for whom these barriers exist. They covered the foundational elements of this project by first examining a recent study undertaken by PolicyLink and The Food Trust titled The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why it Matters. Students also learned from a guest teacher named Asia Hampton from Phat Beets Produce, an Oakland-based grassroots organization that aims to create a healthier, more equitable food system in Oakland and beyond by providing affordable access to fresh produce.

One thing that students learned through these explorations is that there is a link for some demographic groups between access to healthy foods and centuries of restrictive institutional practices along racial lines. We then explored how communities can respond when social justice is necessary by examining The Black Panther Party’s response to barriers to access, with a keen focus on the Panther’s Free Food Program that later inspired federally funded free and reduced school lunches.

Additionally, students travelled to the Alameda County Community Food Bank to volunteer and to learn about why making healthy food more accessible in our community is so vital to the health and success of Alameda County residents.

As a culmination of this unit, students designed a digital map of our neighborhood’s food sources to share with the larger community, called FindYourGreens.org. In order to do this, students created an evaluation tool to assess the variety and cost of healthy foods at neighborhood food sources, as well as proximity from public transportation to indicate accessibility.In the art studio, they designed and produced tote bags to promote the FindYourGreens.org site within the community.