Urban Sprouts reaches over 1,500 individuals and families annually through trilingual (Spanish, English, and Cantonese) programming, which promotes the consumption of fruits and vegetables to reduce chronic disease rates and wellness disparities in San Francisco. In partnership with community organizations, Urban Sprouts’ Community Education Program includes culturally appropriate cooking and nutrition classes, cooking demonstrations, nutrition presentations, and resource facilitation to expand access to restorative foods. These programs provide safe, low-barrier pathways to community health and empower communities to define their own culturally-appropriate practices for healthy living.
Over the past year classes have been held at the following sites:
- Cesar Chavez Elementary School, (Mission)
- Dr. Charles Drew Preparatory Academy, (Bayview)
- Early Literacy Bookmobile, (Mission)
- Leonard R. Flynn Elementary, (Mission)
- Malcolm X Academy, (Hunters Point)
- Mission Neighborhood Center, (Bayview)
- Mission Health Center, (Mission and Excelsior)
- Mission Public Library, (Mission)
- SF AIDS Foundation, (Mid-Market)
- Thomas Edison Charter Academy, (Mission)
Studies show that low-income parents of color and immigrant parents face serious barriers to meaningful participation in their children’s schools (Harvard Educational Review). Our experience echoes this; as a result we adapted our approach regularly to best meet the needs of school parents. We utilize a combination of workshops, activities during existing parent meetings, staff led projects, and school-wide events to reach the broadest audience. We have found that when school parents also participate in garden-based nutrition education programs, families can reinforce their children’s learning and behavior changes at home. By engaging parents directly in the school garden and community health programs, we support youth and their families in making healthy food choices and choosing physically active lifestyles.
- Data from the California Health Interview Survey show that food insecurity—defined as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods—has increased at alarming rates among low-income Californians, with rates of food insecurity highest for low-income and Spanish-speaking households.
- During the period from 2007 to 2009 food insecurity in San Francisco almost doubled, growing from 22.2% to 44.3%, among the highest levels in the state. Further, very low food insecurity, which is defined as multiple instances in which people had to cut their food intake and experienced hunger, grew from 2.7% to 22.2% in San Francisco during this same period. (M. Pia Chaparro, Brent Langellier, Kerry Birnbach, Matthew Sharp, and Gail Harrison, Health Policy Brief, published by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, June 2012)
- There is growing evidence that food insecurity may be associated with disordered eating and a poor diet, potentially increasing risk for obesity and health problems (Adams, Elizabeth J., Laurence Grummer-Strawn, and Gilberto Chavez, Food Insecurity Is Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in California Women, Journal of Nutrition, vol. 133 no. 4 1070-1074, April 2003)