Join us this Friday for OneRouge Week#132 at 8:30 AM via Zoom. The Driver ‘Lack of access to foods to sustain a healthy life' This week’s call will feature a panel conversation will be about the impacts food access, food security, and ultimately nutrition have on learning. Our panel will feature:
Christian Engle - President & CEO of YMCA OF THE CAPITAL AREA
Nichola Hall -Chief Human Resources Officer East Baton Rouge Public Schools
Caitlyn Scales Ph.D. - Development Director, THree O'Clock Project
Amanda Stanley - Chief WIOA Administrator
Food and learning on every level are integrally intertwined. We know that low academic productivity can impact adult opportunities for success. We also know that school-aged children spend most of their time in school, which makes them an important setting to promote health and wellness.
Enlight, Unite, & Ignite!
Pepper Roussel: We are doing a month on food access because it's November and we have Thanksgiving coming up next week. Today we are specifically talking about food access. Food security and its implications for not only education achievement, but also retention. Most of the time when we think about food and education, we think about children, but that's not necessarily the, those are not the only people who learn things. We're just gonna say it. We should be learning absolutely every day of our lives, and we've got a number of folks who know that work well.
Caitlin Scales: Hi, I'm Caitlyn Scales.. I'm showing up as somebody who is totally open to fill in any blanks from our speakers today around how food access and equity helps support kids in learning and life. I am the Development Director at Three O'clock Project. That is a nonprofit in the state of Louisiana that is doing a lot of work in the Baton Rouge area to increase equity and access for kids to healthy, nutritious food and also provide a lot of advocacy support to make that easier in other places across the state. And that is the short of what I do. So during the school day, there's a national school lunch program and that is a resource that is available for federal reimbursement that kids have access to food during the school day. Typically, a breakfast, lunch and snack can be included in that scope of feeding first for kids in school. For the work that we do, we focus on outta school feeding. And accessing two federal grant programs, the CACFP, the Child Adult Care Food program and the summer feeding program that federal access gives us funding to support reimburse food, to provide in at-risk areas for kids who need it the most through enrichment programming. And so one thing that's really important for the work that we do at Three O'clock Project is making sure that we're partnered with anybody and everybody who hosts enrichment opportunities for kids. That is the key to getting this federal funding so that programs can sustain without the cost and overhead of food especially in a time right now with inflation. Cost is hard to get fresh, healthy food to kids and stay in that reimbursed rate. So being able to have access to that with partners who are doing great work for kids is super important. What we have learned working across the state is that Getting food healthy food to far reaching places under the current regulations with Louisiana Department of Health and Department of Education is increasingly more difficult now that waivers from covid have been lifted which means that less kids are getting fed. And have less access to the opportunities of free food in times where they're learning and they're secure and safe. A lot of kids in our state we're always oscillating in the top five states in the nation that have the highest percentage of. Of youth who are experiencing food insecurity. And we see in learning the direct correlation to oscillating in the bottom two to three states for education success. Our achievement levels in the state of Louisiana for learning in education are low. And I think that it's clear to see and things that we've experienced in all of our work as well as in studies that is a direct correlation to access to basic needs if kids don't have shelter. People really. But in our work, we're focused on 18 and under. If kids don't have safe shelter, if they don't have stable food access, if they only have access to food that is not high nutritional value those children typically suffer from early onset diabetes. They have childhood obesity issues. We are one of the highest states in childhood obesity, which impacts health and learning as well. So really everything's interconnected. So if there were anything I could share to wrap up my five minutes, it's probably been more than five minutes, it would be that children do not have control over their situation until they have the opportunity to do so at 18. And because of. We have to work together as a community to provide the resources needed to help children thrive and at least have the opportunity. And we're in a state that has a really high need for that comparatively to other areas. Yeah, there's data that I pulled last night. I was talking to Kevin and. It's just, yeah, the whole, if we looked at every parish, everything across the state, all of our charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools, the equity and access issue is massive. But I'm out of time, we can dive into discussion later.
Christian Engel: I'm the president and CEO for the Y M C A of the Capital area based outta Baton Rouge. And so yeah, so my background I've been with the Y M C A for 32 years all over the country. My education background is not nutrition, but I've got a, an undergrad at in exercise science. So I know a little bit about, the nutritional world. And Caitlin said a lot of the same things that I was gonna share as well. And the work that three o'clock does is fantastic and we are phenomenal partners with them and are actually growing our partnerships even more every day. I think from our standpoint so obviously we run a lot of youth programs. We're actually nationally and locally the largest providers of childcare services in the. So we work with a lot of children as the majority of who our work is with. We like to say that we work with people from the cradle to the grave. Because you can come to the Y at any age and we have programs for any age. In the summertime we'll run anywhere from a little over a thousand kids throughout the summer through our programs. And a big part of that is, is food. One of the things that we learned years. And it's opportunity for us to be impactful, but also very sad. And Caitlin said this, and just the a the access to food, right? So many kids show up to our programs and they haven't had breakfast. If they weren't in our program, they weren't gonna get lunch that day. And in a lot of cases if they weren't in our program, they weren't gonna get dinner that day. It just depends on what the flow of that program is. In our afterschool programs, we provide snacks and. To kids in those programs as well as during the summertime. And again, that's, a lot of that is done in partnership with what three O'clock does here. And the other side of that is a lot of kids that come to our programs, we're providing them the only warm meal they're going to get that day. And I think sometimes we forget about that, that we think so often about kids getting food. But so many kids in our communities are not getting warm food, right? Because if they, if mom and dad weren't able to pay the power bill that month, or they weren't able to pay the gas bill that month or whatever, they're not able to get, access to even a warm meal. So that's something that we take great pride in is being able to do that. Caitlin talked a little bit about some of the logistics that are going on with the Louisiana health Department, which we can dive into a little bit later. But there are some challenges in our state on being able to provide access to food throughout our state and even quality food throughout our state. And one of the reasons why we like partnering with three o'clock, and I feel like I'm really promoting Three O'clock, so Caitlin, you can thank me later. But really is the fact that it's access to nutritious food. Because parents do in a lot of ways have access to food. It's just not the food that we want them to have access to. It's like we've removed vending machines from all of our locations. It's because when parents would show up, they would come in and they would grab, a Snickers bar and a Diet Coke and give it to their kid and say, Hey, here you go. Here's breakfast. So nationally, Y M Cs have removed all of those things because we wanted to make sure that we were forcing parents to come and get the nutritionist food, not what was quick and easy, but for so many families, that's the only thing they have access to. We do a lot of policy work both locally and nationally around food education and then also really working hard to. Set ourselves up with partners to be able to be a better resource around food. Not only education, but also just food access. And some of that starts with a number of the farmers markets that we have. We have a great partnership with Breta at several of our locations. Just different things like that where we're really just trying to provide access and work really hard on access. All the things Caitlin said around the challenges around what a lack of nutritious food does to children is dead on. And I think the, probably the saddest statistic out there is for about the last 15 years, and especially today, I was just reading this the other day, is again, the generation that's in elementary school today, their life expectancy is less than their parents. And all of that relates back to nutrition, housing, access to quality care, all of those things. And it's really sad when you think about where we are as a society that we have yet to address this. This issue of the fact that the five year old kid that you're gonna see today, whose mother may live to 70, he's probably gonna live, or she is probably gonna live till 65 or 66. And that number just keeps getting lower and. know, We always throw out the statistics of, oh, people are living to a hundred. That is such a small percentage of people that if we don't really figure this out then we're never gonna change that statistic and we need to
Pepper Roussel: I am curious though, about the vending machines when you took 'em out. Was there not an opportunity, and we can come back to this. I'm sorry. I That's fine. Just wanna put a bit in it. , was there an opportunity maybe to put different things in the vending machine?
Christian Engel: Yeah. As opposed, yeah that's the next step. So the first step was just to get 'em out and this.
And this was done decades ago and maybe it's somewhat of a reflection of of Louisiana, and I hate the way I say that cause that sounds terrible. But when I came to the Y here, which was about five years ago, I was actually surprised that there were vending machines in the buildings because that's normally not something that we would see. So it was actually one of the first things I did was get vending machines out. What we're struggling with now is finding vending providers that actually provide healthy nutrit. Vending things because we all think, oh, we'll just put like baked Lays chips in there. Those aren't healthy, right? You almost need cold, refrigerated vending machines and the companies exist. We're just trying to get them into our organization. But yeah, so the first step for us was to get that out. We're actually getting ready to put policies out beginning next year with even just all of our youth sports programs. And we run probably about 2000 kids through our youth sports program. And is we're gonna set a standard on what parents can provide as a snack. So anybody who has little kids and they go to a end of a tee-ball game, somebody shows up with cupcakes or donuts or whatever, we're actually gonna set a standard on what can be provided after a game. And so a lot of that's gonna be, all of things related to like fruits or oranges or, different things like that and stuff. But all around this effort to try to help with that. But really it's education too, cuz how many parents just don't. Oh, he is six years old. He can eat whatever he wants. It's not gonna hurt him. And it's eh. But it creates a sugar addiction at that point. And that's what kind of to all into trouble.
So we are gonna tra transition now to Amanda. Where are you? Are you on screen? There? You on the screen? All right.
Amanda Stanley: I am the Chief Wheel Administrator for East Baton Rouge Parish, which covers our WEO funds Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. With that employee, BR is also under the umbrella of weo. And if employee br, we provide access to career opportunities, training different services for the most vulnerable in our population in the parish. And so while we're talking about food, we're not a direct provider. Food and food access. But what we do is we do help our youth and our adults in the parish access other opportunities that will lead them to a more sustainable lifestyle. So we do provide access to educational opportunities, career paths, career training. We do career assistants, which is resume writing and Soft skills training to get our citizens ready for that employment. So when we're thinking about how we can all partner, when I'm listening to Christian and Caitlin, there are organizations, so many organizations and East Baton Rouge. Do a lot of the same work and work with a lot of the same populations. And how are we collaborating and referring where appropriate so that those that are the most vulnerable in our parish have access. If we can't provide food where we send in, Participants that might need that assistance, whereas maybe the three o'clock project or Y W C A, you can't maybe do transportation or educational assistance. Are you sending those guys? Do you have a relationship? With employee VR so that you are referring them to us and we are also working with them so holistically so that we're all moving in the same direction. And in the six months that I have been doing this, that has really been my main focus is. it seems like we're all running in parallel lines and how do we come together so that we're all doing the things that we do best, and then referring that population appropriately. We do work within school and outta school youth, so how are we referring them to the appropriate places that they may need for additional assistance, whether that's maybe, high set training at bcc. or, to the Y M C A for other nutritional assistants. So that is really what I am working on and have a goal for this next year because as funding is limited. And so if we can be using our funding more strategically, then we're gonna serve a bigger population. And Pepper.
Casey Phillips: I want to echo what I put into the chat about both of our first speakers. Both of these humans look at systems and direct service at the same time. That is Caitlin and Christian both have a heart for humans and the direct services part, but at the same time, they're always thinking about the systems change, the design thinking side. And that's I think there's been a deficiency of that in the past because people who work in policy were of siloed out and just policy work, not as practitioners. And quite frankly, I think a lot, including my own organization at the start as practitioners, we under. We underestimated and undervalue the need for policy work simultaneous. Because if not the problem discontinues to persist. And I just wanna lift it up that all these humans are working on both, both of that duality at the same time. And. I tell you what folks, the four speaker that pepper's about to to introduce as said talk about someone who has the duality approach. And I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Hall when she first moved into our community. And we have got a heavyweight champion in our school system now, folks, and and I hope that everybody who has not had a chance to meet her is about to meet her for the first time. And it is time for you all to help EBR schools move that ball forward in an innovative way.
Nicola Hall: So tonight, today I wanted to just just a quick conversation about who I am and why I am gungho about Child Nutrition Program here. So my name is Nicola Hall, chief Human Resources Officer for East Baton Rouge Public Schools. A year in and a. Days came from Connecticut, just like Mr. Engel championed for Y M C A. It's always good to see familiar faces doing the same work, continuously. It speaks volumes. So child nutrition is a space that I start off. Way back when and every time I'm in a different leadership capacity, I always go back to child nutrition cuz that's where I build my career from. And when I got here I was granted the opportunity to manage a child nutrition. Department because I think there's so much opportunities that could be done there. I honestly feel that we are so behind. And it's no fault of anyone. I just think that we've become so complacent and relaxed at what the standard is that we don't push the envelope, and I'm that type of person with the personnel of pushing envelope as far as I can until I said, no, that's enough. So just wanted to share some insight. View in Louisiana, one in five children face hunger. Every day, 44.9% receive snap benefits. That's a lot. That's almost 50%, right? 604. 604. 40,000 face hunger and 236,000 of them are children in Louisiana. Imagine all these babies. We always take care of folks in other country, but we don't do enough for our community, right? And I am gungho about, oh yes, let's do all we can for humanity. But I think we should always start at home, take care of home, get these people, or get our folks empowered. So they could start re. It forward. So my goal, and I sent some information over to Pepper this morning, is to push the envelope in changing what child nutrition looks like, right? And the only way to do that is through collaborative partnership. This is why I will never give up an opportunity to sit in spaces like this with people who have the same vision and mindset that I have, cuz it's so much easier to. The fight or the good fight when you have more people on the ground to push with you versus you doing it by yourself. So for the last eight months, made some internal changes was able to get a regional chef, a job description passed by the board, our lovely board that we have that could be, hard to deal with sometimes I think they're rock stars, but, we all have a differences. But I, one thing I can say, they all love children, right? So with that being. Hire two regional chefs for rebuilding the new menus for next school year. What does that look? Fun, different, innovative, using the same products that other school system have. If you look around the dis around the country New York City Public Schools is one, Chicago is another public school. Georgia Gwinnet counted specifically, go follow their social media websites, and you'll be blown away the type of food that's been served. And we have access to the same products, the same thing. We all bid on these same products, right through s d A. Why is it that ours are different? A couple of different reasons. We just don't give a damn no more, right? I'm just gonna say the way it is, we really don't care. We don't have any oof behind it. We don't treat our kids like they're our kids, it's almost the morale has changed. Has decreased. So my job right now is to improve that and how to do that by pumping some lives of warm and fuzzy feeling in the people that are working person, making sure the superintendent acknowledge and praise the child nutrition employees of. Folks feel like they're part of something bigger. They wanna show up and do great things. Cause I could do everything, change menus change uniforms, which we've done, et cetera, et cetera. If people are not feeling that, it doesn't matter what I do, they're not gonna put forward the effort. So it's a big heavy step for us to do that. But my ultimate goal, so the regional chef is their new menu. Implementing policies, sop, standard operating procedures, cuz wherever you go, whichever school you go throughout the district, the food should look and taste the same, should look and taste different Every school you go to, everybody have their own way of throwing salt, a little pinch of salt over there and all this extraness. That is a hot mix. However, the ultimate goal is to be able to utilize implement and collaborate with local community garden. Scoop gardens and implement those items on in meals, on our salad bars, whether it's herb spices. Whatever that looks like and I, it can be accomplished. It's a heavy lift and the only way I'm gonna be able to do that is if you guys, if I partner with y'all to get it done, cuz you know, more voices are powerful than just myself. And we've already started some conversation with Caitlin, with Casey. I know Pepper's a part of that. And with the Y M C A Mr. Engel is gonna be helping me with the fitness side of things to put it together because it's not a Nicola thing, it's a human, it's a human thing. It's the right thing to do. So that is my ultimate goal, is to be able to change the way kids eat. And I feel if we could change 'em as. Kindergarten, pre-K. By the time they're high school, adult, you will see a shift in how people eat. Obesity rates will change all the things that's been harming us, especially in the black and brown community. We will see a difference. So that's my speech, that's my soapbox. And I know Pepper has some. Stuff that I shared with her to share with y'all. But let me know how I can best help and how I could collaborate with y'all. And nothing is too big or small for me to do except snakes. I don't do snake. Period. So anything else?
Casey Phillips: I was I was about to make some jokes about some some you anyway so with that being said I thought that Reverend and Nicola and Caitlin, both in Christian and Amanda, if you have any insights on this, I thought Robert Anderson asked a really good question because dr. Hall, if you're talking about the change, some of the changes then policy, they're gonna have to be made. It's gonna require the school board being on board. Are there school board members? Obviously we just had a pretty significant turnover still in a couple of races. Which one of the races in particular? I think we could. Hold a whole Friday on are there advocates for fresh food access and who are gonna be your allies on here? Are there any of the school board members that we feel are really entrenched in this so we can talk to them and get them on board behind the innovation that's necessary? Anybody?
Caitlin Scales: They're all brand new, but I'm. unapologetically profiling them. because? Because we are working with. Nicola to do to help bring a policy to the district level that would support this. So if we could, so our intention is to work with the board. It seems that there are a lot of allies for more progressive action on the elected board. And we have a runoff in December still to solidify that. But the hope is from my perspective, that we have an opportunity to really come forward with great ideas from a district level. And bring board members along in that culture. Which I think is a really exciting opportunity. And I'm very hopeful with the way that the elections went, but I think Nicola and others may have a better insight or more depth.
Christian Engel: I don't have any other insight, but I'm just sitting here thinking that I think to Caitlin's point, it's gonna be a more progressive group, or at least we hope it. And so much of this just comes back to education. I I think it's they and Nicholas said it great, is that they're all in this for the kids, right? Like we know that they're in this for the kids. And I think a lot of the things CTO's trying to implement is great. I think at the end of the day, it's us trying to tie in the importance of a healthy nutrition and its ability to help all those other things, move forward and stuff. So I think it's a combination of it all, and. Of course you'd hate to think there's any school board member that would be against it, so I don't believe that's out there at all. I just think it's probably a majority of a probably a lack of understanding or lack of edu education of the importance and so much of that just comes back to our own personal cultures or beliefs or our own, how we eat and everything else and stuff. And I do want to comment on Nicole as well is that, she came here from Bridgeport and so we talk about, poverty and low income and it doesn't get any worse than Bridgeport, Connecticut. And I spent a lot of time in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and that's statistically across the country. So to have somebody in a corner who understands the poverty needs but yet still knows what can be accomplished and where it can go, I think that says a lot about some of the leadership that's going on in ebr, because that's, sometimes that's a disconnect. Oh, we want to do it, but we can't afford it. No, everybody can afford it. And to Nicola's point it's just figuring out the mechanisms to establish and out of everything everybody wants to do, the school is probably the most important space because they've got all the kids, right? Everybody's there at least, 42 weeks out of the year. So it's, what can we do and what kind of impact we have. But it's a lot of policy change and that's the heavy lift.
Caitlin Scales: Yeah, the one thing to add is I just wanna clarify when we say that we hope it's more progressive, that does not mean more left. It means more open minded. So I think just being clear on this is not. It's a, from a perspective of mindset. And also a lot of the work that I've been doing this week in particular at the ask of some leaders in the Baton Rouge area is digging into similar minded. Politically states in our southern region of the US to pull cuz all the examples of these policies and ideas and nutrition examples. I'm Chicago and we got people from all over the place that have seen this work. But it's all from states that do not have the same political. Grounding as we do here in Louisiana. So I'm pulling all of the CMP data and policies and regulations and statutes to build a case for what can work here, because it also works in states that are more like-minded on a partisan standpoint, which it shouldn't have to be that. But it is part of the pushback. At all levels of our state leadership and from boots on the ground to the tops, like, how are we preparing for this change? So if anybody's already analyzed those states and their CMP data and regulations and policies, hit me up because it's a lot of reading. So let me know if you have already dug into those statutes.
Nicola Hall: So the board, the card board that we have now. I. I'm the type I could work with whoever. I really don't care what party line you come from, what color scheme you are, as long as you have the love for kids that will change, right? It's hard work. The difference between Bridgeport and here I think is. That the superintendent buys into the vision, right? So he has the wherewithal to have those conversations, ongoing conversations behind closed doors that I may not be privy to. So that helps with the fight along the way. I also believe that if you change and politics is involved in everything, I would love to say to say politics has nothing to do with education. It shouldn't be in education, period. But it is, and it has increasingly like just creeped in more and it's not going anywhere, so you have to deal with it. I'm gonna punk out and sit on the sideline and watch everybody else. Fight. No, I'm gonna get in there. I'm gonna figure out a way how to win as long as I'm able to get some folks with me to fight the fight with me. I think for me, how I got things changed especially in Bridgeport, in Connecticut, was joining local organizations. In fact, we even went on a different approach and get through sna I join onto the legislative board. And got interfaces of politicians that love to show up in our poor neighborhoods for a photo op, to talk about things, to say, okay, I hear what you're saying over there. I'm glad that you show up, but here's the issues if you are able to change this, et cetera, et cetera, and put them on the spot uncomfortably, not blow up their spot, but make them uncomfortable in a space that they remember that conversation every time. Theme I face with a big smile. Of course, they're able to have a discussion about child nutrition. The problem with child nutrition and all the policies, it's so complex and nobody wants to sit through that, right? So we have to figure out a way how to simplify the message so folks don't get bumped down with all the minutiae of the compliance part of it, right? And the best way to do that is to make sure everybody speaks the same language. So if we're talking about what does, how hard is it to transition from a school garden to the plate of a child? It should be a simple message. It shouldn't go through. It has to go a, b, c steps because by the time it gets to the board and try to discuss that in a 32nd, it's not, it's gonna go over their head, it's gonna fail. And the other thing is to get the people at the ground level, the child nutrition staff fired up about the differences, so they. Could call their board members. Cause they do call when they're not happy to let them know, oh, we are happy about this, I would love for you to pass this bill or pass this policy, et cetera to get a buy-in. So for me it's a greater collaborative effort with getting the people who. Normally are the voiceless to get them fired up to try to push the agenda at the, the board level. But I honestly, I don't know the board that are coming in that's coming in. I do know the ones that we have now and the ones that I think are going to return. I know Blue is great. They're all great. Connie, she loves child nutrition. Lanis is also game. I think they, it is just back to if we could focus the attention back to the kids, I think that's where we have to get the warm and fuzzy feeling in the gut, and try to minimize the. the politics verbiage, if that makes sense.
Pepper Roussel: There are so many things that are really. I would love to unpack, we only have so much time, but I wanna get to these questions that are popped up in the chat already. The first one that I saw I thought was really interesting. So do we have, do we think that the reason that the food is insufficient is because the folks who were paid to prepare it are not being paid enough? Or is this a budgetary constraint? So is this about the food that's being budgeted for, or the people that we're budgeting?
Caitlin Scales: Is the question for the person who asked it. Would you like a response from the district and school specifically, or also from the impact on dollars and preparation from outside vendors that are have to be used? I want all of the yeses. Yeah, I was gonna say, yeah, all of them. Thank you, Ashley.
Ashli Ognelodh: I guess my my inquiry came from the fact that it was stated that, We have, or there is access to everything that everyone else has. And so they're implementing these things. So I was just curious then if the access is there and it's being provided, then it must be those that are preparing the actual food and. You know what better way to not do something is to not have any encouragement, any type of monetary encouragement to do something. Typically, that, so I was just wondering if that were the case with. I think that the district is schools is probably a more interesting answer, so I can give a really quick answer for out of school issues that we see.
Caitlin Scales: So when you're, when we're working with enrichment sites that are not with a self op school. Like a school can be its own food authority where they prepare everything in house. So we have to often contract with vendors who are outside of that scope of work in order to provide to places like the Y M C A or Boys and Girls clubs or Front Yard Bikes or places that don't have the infrastructure or numbers to scale a kitchen of their own. And so the biggest barrier that we see right now is not the lack. Pay or inspiration from the vendors that we work with. It's that the state has not provided a, a. economic groundwork around the regulations to maintain those companies staying here. So we have lost almost every vendor that does kid friendly food statewide. Over the last really 12 months we had six major vendors leave the state. There are two left that hold the correct permitting to satellite food to sites that are not under their own umbrella. And so we are in a position where the food is not being scratch cooked at the moment. Most places, including groups like Second Harvest and others who have kitchens are still leaning on shelf stable options over scratch cooked hot meals because of cost and inflation. So there are current economic barriers that are a huge issue right now that we're looking to try to improve. Through action, like popping up a kitchen and making it work for as long as we need to until somebody else can do it better. And so that, that's the out of school challenges. So permitting regulation, cost inflation, economic climate, people want to do their job. It's just harder to do it well, fair enough.
Pepper Roussel: All right, and so we've got another question. How do the school districts plan to engage both families and communities in changing these food habits? So we spend a lot of time talking about spent a lot of time this morning and generally we wanna change how kids eat, you go. You go on vacation and suddenly everything changes. So what are we doing to loop in their support systems?
Nicola Hall: Okay. I'm going to use this as an example. I come from a different space. I'm always ready to jump off a cliff without a parachute and say, oh my God, it's gonna be great. So we implemented a latte for high schools. And I look at the school system, the cafeteria, as a business, right? And when I look around, we. Different Restaurants fast food spaces, community coffee, Starbucks, et cetera, et cetera. And kids are grabbing coffee coming in and they're not getting anything to eat, which is impacting reimbursement. We get paid based on the amount of meals kids eat without reimbursement. We cannot pay additional dollars to to employees to improve their life. So we bank. Participation rates. So we had to think outside the box. So the first step was to implement a cafe. And this is going on across in other states. This is, this doesn't just pop up in Louisiana. However, we had some feedback about it that we are giving kids caffeine and we are ruined their lives, et cetera. It was, I was taken back by it because I thought it was something great, something different, et cetera. The kids are already taken. This is only for high school and it's offer versus serve, but there was a miss. Opportunity to educate. So now I had to go back to my team and focus on before we move forward with anything we need to test market or send it out to the parents so they have an idea what's coming on. Once again, folks never normally pay attention to child nutrition or bus operators are our custodian until something. Not working or something that they're not happy with. So now we're changed the way we are doing our, our informing parents about what's going on. We have a social media page that we just started and we are just sharing wonderful things that Child Nutrition is doing and we're gearing them up for the new menus. So in addition to that the social media platform we're also. Looking within the schools themselves, starting with the middle and high school creating school partnership committees where we are having parent advisors to come in and have these discussions and share with them. In fact, at the district level, we have parent advisors, board and teacher and principal advisor boards, and we carry continuing those conversations there. It's gonna take some time for folks to adjust to a lot of the. I don't know if I should use the word progressive movement towards. Invading healthier choices or be more aggressive with trying to get kids to engage. And I'm struggling with my politically correctness words here. But what I'm saying is we're working on trying to get parents more engaged in the conversation. So we're, they're not blindsided. I wanna make sure folks feel like they're respected. Respected, and we love and appreciate them, but it's all about the kids, right? I digress.
Christian Engel: Yeah, just I wanted, you said something I thought was it triggered something for me too, that, there's a whole other aspect of this that we're dealing with as well, which is all the cultural preferences around food, right? So when we think about how do we help families when they're on vacation or at home or whatever, eat better. So much of that just comes back to education because there's been all these studies that have been done of families that have moved here from other countries that in their countries, we look at 'em as being whatever third world or, poverty. But they're very healthy from a food standpoint because their food is prepared a very certain way. And then they come to the United States and they're like, oh my gosh, you have this, or you have that. And they start introducing into their more traditional meals that now their traditional meals are no longer traditional meals. And you could even look at things like, gumbo or grits or other things. They're not made the same today as they were made, a hundred years ago. I keep realizing my internet connection keeps going, so I apologize. But we're changing the way we eat and I think so much of that goes back to the education we have to provide to families is keep your your cultural foods, but here are some things and some tweaks you can do to make them a little healthier and still provide that same flavor that you want or that same. Access that you want. We, we did a study in New York once and we found that people were cooking their grandparents, recipes, but they weren't because they had tweaked them over the years. They had added something over the years, so it wasn't grandma's recipe anymore. It was a version of grandma's recipe. And so much of that I think just comes back to education and. I am.
Pepper Roussel: You know what, Christian, that is the perfect segue to the next question, mainly because and before we do the next question around food culture and food sovereignty, I wanna echo something and uplift something you just said about how. Over time, things have changed and it's not necessarily where it started as a cultural food. Next week we're having a conversation around indigenous food stuffs. And when we think of indigenous people, we think of fry bread. That is not a traditional thing for indigenous people, they did not have the wheat flour and they could not have po, but over time, so with commodities and. Putting them in situations where they did not have access to their traditional food stuffs. It has evolved, and I say that almost tongue in cheek. It has evolved to where there is now fry bread, which is probably one of the worst things to consume as a cultural food. But for those who are new to our community, Who do have a very strong connection to their traditional food stuffs. We call them immigrants. But are we doing anything to to ensure that as they're integrating into our schools and our communities, that their food preferences and their food culture are in any way recognized and.
Christian Engel: I'm gonna say the easy answer is now and I don't mean that in a negative sense. I just think, man, when you're trying, I'm gonna pick on the school and you're trying to cook for. 7,000 kids or whatever the number is, like how do you do that, right? Like, how do you balance that? But I do think there's an opportunity for the educational piece in a sense of, Hey we're preparing this. If you do this at home, here's a way to tweak it. Or different things like that and stuff. But I would think that would be really difficult. But that's my very simplistic answer to that.
Nicola Hall: I just wanted to jump in cause I have to go back to my budget meeting. There's, they're calling me, but for this situ, this question it is a huge opportunity. New York City Public Schools did it and we serve not we, not anymore. They served millions of meals every day and they were able to incorporate. Cultural menus along the way, and it's because they had a chef for each borough who focused on the population within that borough. And that's how we were able to, once again, it's always about a business. If we wanna be able to improve people's lives, we have to increase participation in how we do that. We have to get kids to eat and we have to figure out how to get everybody to the table so it can be done. It's a lot of work to get it done. Lot of exciting work to get it done. But if they needed people like the. Ca, the Boys and Girls Club, local community organizations to help push the progressive agenda. So with that being said, I digress. Thank you all for having me. I have to go back to my meeting. I appreciate love and appreciate you all. Thanks. Thanks for being here, Nicole, Nicola, I really appreciate you staying as much, as long as you could.
Pepper Roussel: Thank you. And so a general question about what it is that we are, like, what is the right food, right? So do what version of the food pyramid are we using now? Is it still on my plate? Is and how do we get there? Is it. Because I wanna say there was like a food rainbow at one point, and when I was a kid it was, a meet and three, what do we, what is the right thing?
Christian Engel: I was trying to see if I could, I was trying to see if I could grab it really quick and I, I can't get it up in front of me, but so the food pyramid has changed. I think it's been three times and twice, and I think the last maybe 20. But most of our schools, and most people still only refer to the old version, the original version, which is, grains and breads are like at the top, and then it of filters down. It's actually been flipped a lot that it's now, I think maybe vegetables and fruits first, or is the, or maybe at the bottom. I Like the larger portions now are fruits and vegetables. Second is, I think meat and then it lowers from there. So it's been flipped. The and I won't get into all the mean, and you guys know this. If you Google it, you're gonna find a thousand versions of what appropriate eating is and everything else. But At the end of the day what we should all be doing is eating real foods. And that's the biggest challenge because it's hard to prepare real foods. And Caitlin said it, of preparing foods from scratch, right? That's a whole different concept than opening a box and pouring it in a container and cooking it. When you're cooking for mass. It's easier to open a box board in a container and make it go. And I think that's where COLA is talking about the fact of just resources and how do we partner with other entities so that we can get fruits and vegetables into our buildings and different things like that. But the food pyramid aside, again, it keeps, we keep coming back to this access piece, right? And we all know in North Baton, There isn't a grocery store, there isn't a place to even go and get it, and you can go buy an apple at the corner store, but it's gonna cost you five times what an apple would cost you at the grocery store, just cuz of a whole price point and purchasing power of stuff. So there's all different examples out there of what appropriate food should be, but at the end of the day, it's just providing access and and I. , we get really stuck on the nutritional aspect, which I'm 100% I'm all in. But in so many cases too, we also have to be careful that we don't go too far that way. Cuz on some level it's really just about getting food to kids, right? Like in general, if the kid's not going to eat or he is gonna have a box of macaroni and cheese, man, let's give him some macaroni and cheese, right? . If it's a choice between macaroni and cheese and something healthier, then yes, of course we want to get them something healthier and something they can have. So I think there's just a lot of levels to what addressing food insecurity becomes.
Caitlin Scales: In schools. I'm not sure statewide, I'm sure that this is taught at some level, but the My Plate version is really handy. It has been like an improvement that has helped. I think the research has shown that the cognitive relationship to behavior around food is more visual because somebody, I think even said in the chat that you eat with your eyes. And so the learning of portions and visualizing how things ought to be balanced on your plate, but even with the My Plate version, if kids are getting vegetables that are canned in salt and have a high level of sodium that isn't the same portion on your plate as having fresh green beans, and so I think the quality is interesting, but I also really wanna harp on, and we don't have very much time, but. The culturally responsive approach to food without shaming the behavioral experience that we have around food and nutrition. , getting people who have access to Snap to go to a store that has fresh vegetables sometimes is in a neighborhood or part of a culture that they don't feel comfortable being in. They don't feel safe. They don't want to walk into the Whole Foods uptown in New Orleans. That's not their home. That's not where people wanna be. And so I think there's a lot of assumptions that are driven by class and geography that need to be overcome as well. And approaching it in a way that. Teaching and from a place of empathy and not assuming that people just need to be told what's right and wrong because a relationship with food is not the same for everybody. That's why health science and health equity has grown so much to address this because diagnoses of clinical. Chronic illness among adults and kids and elderly people look completely different person to person. For one example is, the gluten craze, people talk about it as a fad, and some people are hospitalized and like permanently damaged in their bodies for celiac. And that, the way in which these conversations happen, or telling a kid they should or shouldn't have certain things, or they should never have sugar that isn't natural, or that parents have ruined their children by feeding them coke in a baby bottle like that. That's not how these conversations happen. And gathering in cultural. Experiences around food shared together across cultures is a huge way to address those things and learn together. But everybody has to be rooted in empathy to do that. Nobody's way is better or worse, and that's where you lean on, the data and experts and opportunities to set examples.
08:37:41 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:
Caitlyn, you rock! Just needed to be said. Thanks for all you and TOP does!
08:38:37 From Krystle Veals, New Schools for Baton Rouge to Everyone:
So many great services at the Y! Great partners.
08:38:52 From One Rouge to Everyone:
I’m a fan of the Y!
08:39:29 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
Thank you, Casey! Forgot to mention - Although my current role is in food and health equity for youth...my background is education and working across the country to impact/design systems change work for learning and equity in schools.
08:39:56 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
Thank you, Christian! We love you all!
08:40:01 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
Thank you for connecting the dots with adequate housing and utilities with healthy food access.
08:42:01 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:
Under Christian and his team’s leadership the Y has become one of the most powerful collaborative partners in the community. Kudos for the wholistic approach to health you all are taking.
08:42:38 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
Snickered at Snickers... good job Pepper!
08:42:50 From Krystle Veals, New Schools for Baton Rouge to Everyone:
I was thinking the SAME thing Pepper!
08:43:42 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
We just completed mid terms and in East Baton Rouge Parish had the entire school board on the ballot and I am wondering if we are asking candidates about their views on food access?
08:44:21 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
That's amazing and the parents might kill you!
08:46:54 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:
Cathy Carmichael is still running to be my representative and is a scientist at Pennington... She has worked with us in local food systems development.
08:47:09 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
Vending machines that do healthy food need to be coached in cultures that are used to high artificial sugar in foods. We run into this even in our after school program partnerships - that children haven't ever had a fresh apple or a fresh satsuma. They have had canned fruit in syrup. There is an educational opportunity here for families in things that many partners on this call have access to in order to support even the culture of trying new things. We do activities during our food shares with kids to help them feel comfortable to try something as seemingly common as an orange. The little moments matter!
08:48:31 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
Super Tax Day is coming up and these partners should come out and do presentations.
08:48:57 From Amanda Stanley - LDWB 21 EBR to Everyone:
Amanda Stanley, firstname.lastname@example.org, WIOA/EmployBR
08:49:04 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
Hi Amanda!!! Happy to see you in this seat!
08:49:33 From Amanda Stanley - LDWB 21 EBR to Everyone:
Thank you Sherreta - it's great to see you and you are doing great things!
08:50:05 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
08:50:13 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
One thing I want to make sure we address after Nichola speaks is the cultural implication of how we all address work around food access and nutrition...just saying that here so I don't forget to address it!
08:51:02 From Christian Engle - YMCA of the Capital Area to Everyone:
Nichola and I share a love of Connecticut pizza
08:52:03 From Alexis Jones to Everyone:
Push that envelope!!
08:52:04 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
And this, Nichola, is why we are PUMPED to partner with you in EBR. Let's go!!!
08:52:45 From Ashli Ognelodh to Everyone:
If we take care of our communities we wont have to save the nation
08:53:54 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
^Ashli — yes!
08:54:13 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:
shoutout to my home Gwinnett County! phenomenal job with school nutrition
08:54:33 From Krystle Veals, New Schools for Baton Rouge to Everyone:
08:55:24 From Ashli Ognelodh to Everyone:
Do you think the food is insufficient because those preparing aren’t compensated enough to care?
08:57:50 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
How does the school district plan to engage both families and community in changing food habits?
08:59:23 From Mary Stein to Everyone:
SIDEBAR: Focus on growing, lifting up the Baton Rouge FOOD CULTURE could lead to focus on food in schools…reminded of several episodes of CHOPPED wherein they featured chefs who worked full time for their local school system.
09:00:43 From Marcela Hernandez, LMSW- LORI to Everyone:
Are there any special considerations for immigrant families and children, specially for those vulnerable immigrants of the State that don't seek out for help?
09:01:34 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:
There are also USDA funded programs through LDAF to source local food for schools. School districts have funds to source local.
09:01:44 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
They also don't have the same food culture.
09:01:51 From Helena Williams to Everyone:
Which version of the Food Pyramid is taught now? The MyPlate? Is it still being taught in Elementary school?
09:04:10 From One Rouge to Everyone:
i do enjoy uncomfortable conversations!
09:04:14 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
I also think it's important to acknowledge that commitment to the cause (children) is not enough because commitment manifests in several ways. People's actions have to be aligned or at least complimentary. And unfortunately, as human beings we don't always act according to what we say we value.
09:04:57 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
We always talk as if this is an even playing but some of our children live in cancer alley in schools that still have lead based paint on the walls. Can any of the speakers address the issue that this is a crisis in some areas and not relevant in other areas of this parish?
09:05:21 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Marcela - Yes! There are many organizations who support documented and undocumented families to help open access for them and reduce barriers. This is a big lift and these populations are everywhere and unseen/underrepresented. This is certainly a topic we should get experts on from orgs who work wtih these populations!
09:07:02 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Carl - YES! Part of our hope in bringing the community and the school district leadership TOGETHER is to provide more infrastructure to access and MANAGE these funds - it is a huge lift, but ABSOLUTELY available.
09:07:12 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:
What is this biggest barrier to increasing food quality in EBR schools? Is it cost? Coordination? Consensus?
09:07:33 From Mary Stein to Everyone:
Just remember that EBR Schools is just ONE of several school districts in the parish....
09:07:35 From Village Cofe’ to Everyone:
Lack of education from culture we accept diagnosis because our mom or family member had the same diagnosis. Also healthy food has look good and taste good because we eat with our eyes first.
Sometimes the healthier food are not available in all spaces and it becomes hard to do or you are singled out. As a person diagnosed with fibromyalgia, gluten, wheat allergy, migraines it was hard to as they say get healthy. No one showed me how. It was a dark and lonely space…Most cultures don’t understand you eating differently from how family has eaten for decades.
09:08:59 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
And how much freedom does a school nutrition worker at the school level have overhear menus?
09:13:28 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Rev. Anderson - YES. Oh my goodness, yes. This is why our scope of work is now focusing way beyond just getting kids fed outside of school and also researching, partnering, and understanding what needs to be done in communities that have never recovered from natural disasters, that are in a food desert, who are in cancer alley, who have unclean water, etc. etc. etc. Working with hospital systems and research institutions to learn what we can do to meet needs more responsively and NOT FROM A PLACE OF ASSUMPTIONS is critical for any of this to be sustainable or move the needle on health equity (of which food and basic needs for kids and families are at the center). Not sure this is helpful response?
09:15:14 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Village Cofe - This cultural component is so critical. Thank you for sharing your experience here…that is such an example of why experiences and culturally responsive approaches to introducing healthy food has to be at the forefront of this work. I totally agree here!
09:20:58 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:
This is an example of Canada's version vs US version of MyPlate
09:21:13 From Carl Motsenbocker to Everyone:
09:21:26 From Kelli Rogers to Everyone:
09:21:57 From Thomas Donley to Everyone:
In Colorado they just approved a tax on those making over $300k to fund free, healthy, and locally-sourced breakfasts and lunches in public schools. https://www.yesonff.org/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwy5maBhDdARIsAMxrkw3u6pYOvt396Xmp9wpJtCl92AQgb-ab4mfbEl3YBnrivkkF6Ke4N88aAvQnEALw_wcB
09:22:51 From Helena Williams to Everyone:
It’s embarrassing to say I didn’t eat fresh green beans until I moved to California when I was a teenager
09:22:56 From Kelli Rogers to Everyone:
The link I posted is great info from AHA that focuses on eating patterns
09:22:59 From One Rouge to Everyone:
“dont’ yuck my yum!"
09:23:13 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:
Encourage everyone on the call to join the OneRouge CAFÉ coalition moving forward. For Community Announcements please come out with Interfaith's 11/19 Taste and Health Fair tomorrow to get involved in the work - https://www.thewallsproject.org/post/cafe-joins-interfaith-s-11-19-taste-and-health-fair?mc_cid=3d5e480b74&mc_eid=eab8a3f8a1
09:23:15 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
09:23:46 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
Thank you for pointing out that some of the sources of health food is dangerous for different cultures.
09:24:37 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:
There is a community "Sunday Dinner" model in Birmingham that really speaks to this
09:25:11 From Rev. Alexis Anderson to Everyone:
I am concerned that we keep telling low and no wealth communities that they must come to someplace or someone and never bringing the resources to them.
09:25:25 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Ebony - that sounds awesome! Let's try it out here!
09:25:52 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
@Anderson - YES. Couldn't agree more.
09:26:01 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
sorry @Rev Anderson :)
09:26:58 From Samantha Morgan to Everyone:
Our very own Manny Patole is featured on this weeks episode of Walls Plus One! Please give it a listen! https://www.thewallsproject.org/podcastwallsplusone/episode/809b1eaa/the-future-of-cities
09:27:06 From SHERRETA HARRISON to Everyone:
Great conversation. Need to jump.
09:27:15 From Christian Engle - YMCA of the Capital Area to Everyone:
09:27:26 From Christian Engle - YMCA of the Capital Area to Everyone:
Interesting example in Miss
09:28:20 From Mary Stein to Everyone:
GAME ON a the LIBRARY
09:28:22 From Ebony Starks-Wilson Foundation to Everyone:
09:28:52 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
11/19 10-1pm Cadillac Street Park - Interfaith Federation/BREC partnership for Health and Taste Fair (family friendly)
09:29:15 From Casey Phillips to Everyone:
SK IS ALWAYS AT THE CENTER OF THE WORK!
09:29:24 From Caitlyn Scales to Everyone:
We are PUMPED
09:29:29 From Mary Stein to Everyone:
Happy to announce the LIbrary started discreetly handing our We Care Bags of shelf stable meals to kids at 5 library locations last Friday afternoon, to help kids get through the weekend. A project of St James Episcopal CHurch
09:29:58 From Tammy Brown to Everyone: