Fresh Roots is a non-profit society that Grows Good Food For All. And we do that through cultivating engaging gardens and programs that catalyze healthy eating, ecological stewardship and community celebration. We do that because there is need in our community.
2000 Vancouver youth daily go hungry1, 30% of Canadian youth are overweight or obese.23 On average, students receive 35% of their calories in school; food insecure students – 50%.4,5 Vancouver’s youth (65%) do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits or vegetables6; 48% of healthy weight females are trying to lose weight; 35% had binge eaten in the past year7. Poor student nutrition extends across socioeconomic status and impacts the full spectrum of student lives: academics, mental health and fitness. Hunger affects many students: those who may have to use lunch money for school supplies; who choose pop and chips; who leave their lunch at home; or who have eating disorders.
We work towards changing this every day in three key ways:
Growing Good Food
Everyone deserves access to Good Food – and that’s why we grow it. We use our productive farms and locations for learning food literacy. We have two half acre farms at VanTech and David Thompson Secondary Schools. The food that we grow is sold right back into the community. We use organic principles and sustainability as our way of caring for the planet. We grow organic food – or as your grandma calls it, food.
For every farmer under 35, there are 6 over 65. And while growing food is important, even farmers need to retire. We’re helping train and teach the future growers, food distributors, chefs, and marketers what food is and where it comes from through our Schoolyard Farm Internship.
Our farms are sites for training and supporting youth. During the summer we hire youth through SOYL, where they learn to:
- Produce: Youth grow healthy food for themselves and their community;
- Cook: Youth cook with local chefs to produce meals for themselves and anyone in need in their school community;
- Lead: Youth explore food justice and leadership through our leadership curriculum;
- Sell: Youth sell the food they grow at farmer’s markets, developing critical financial literacy skills, and feeling comfortable speaking and engaging with adults.
We help bring what’s in our textbooks to life. Whether with teachers at our current schools or for teachers who come to visit, we help to engage teachers and students with experiential learning opportunities from field trips to professional development. The new BC curriculum provides a rich opportunity to use our passion for Good Food and getting outside to learn all of the core curriculum. Our vision is to support teachers and educators inside and outside the classroom.
So come and do something food with us – help grow and share Good Food!
1. Bellett, Gerry. “Adopt-a-School: Two thousand children go hungry every day in Vancouver schools” Vancouver Sun. Printed: March 11, 2015 http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Adopt+School+thousand+children+hungry+every+Vancouver+schools/10881222/story.html#ixzz3lHJOVB9U.
2. Statistics Canada. “Overweight and obesity in children and adolescents: Results from the 2009 to 2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey.” http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-003-x/2012003/article/11706-eng.htm.
3. Public Health Agency of Canada. Curbing Childhood Obesity; A Federal, Provincial and Territorial Framework for Action to Promote Healthy Weights, 2012.
4. R.R. Briefel, et al (2009). “School Food Environments and Practices Affect Dietary Behaviours of US School Children.” Journal of the American Dietary Association, 109 (2 Suppl.), pp. 91–107.
5. Action for Healthy Kids (2012). The Learning Connection: What You Need to Know to Ensure Your Kids Are Healthy and Ready to Learn, p. 8. http://www.actionforhealthykids.org/storage/documents/pdfs/afhk_thelearningconnection_digitaledition.pdf.
6. Vancouver Foundation’s Vital Signs. “Children and Youth.” http://www.vancouverfoundationvitalsigns.ca/wp-content/uploads/DeepData-Children-Youth.pdf.
7. Peled, M., Stewart, D., Poon, C., Kovaleva, K., Cullen, A., Smith, A., & McCreary Centre Society (2014). Vancouver: Results of the 2013 BC Adolescent Health Survey. Vancouver, BC: McCreary Centre Society. http://www.mcs.bc.ca/pdf/AHSV_Vancouver.pdf.