BENEFITING: Shunpike Arts Collective
My name is Lena Guevara and I'm currently a college student at Western Washington University. In high school, I started a project on changing school food because, I believed that me and my fellow students should have a say in what we ate. I am the oldest of 3 siblings and was always responsible for preparing dinner every night. I have grown up in a family that eats what's easiest, cheapest, and most convenient, though sometimes not always what's best for us.
During my internship with Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team, (FEEST), I learned a lot about food systems and policies around them and that’s when I decided I wanted to do something about it. I decided to start with school food. According to the school district, 81.5% of the student population receives free or reduced lunch. All those students rely on the food they get from school to get them through the day. They need fresh produce and quality ingredients in their food to get them through the day as students, and as student athletes.
School “food” such as this does not get a high school student through the day. Its gross, sometimes not thoroughly cooked, and the few vegetables that are supplied outside of our lunches are poorly taken care of and past expiration.
For my senior project, I created a school vegetable garden and food demonstration showing how food could be grown for low-cost and a healthy non-gmo, gluten-free meal could be made for less than $1 per student (the cost the district puts toward a school lunch). I made lunch for 100 students for $82 or 82 cents per student. The students were surveyed after the project and they ate all the food, felt satisfied and energized--they like it. I hoped the district might incorporate my menu into the district menu for long-lasting change, but that is yet to happen.
Since I've graduated, a garden coordinator is needed to continue my work in the garden, so FEEST's youth-led food program can use the vegetables for it's weekly dinners. Otherwise, the garden will cease to exist and students at Evergreen won't have the opportunity to experience fresh produce they grew themselves, realize where their food comes from, and realize that they have power to make change. To read more about my project visit: www.betterfoodforschools.wordpress.com