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Our Model – It Takes A Village

It takes a village of family, neighbors, friends, businesses, and community organizations to support our children. This metaphor is at the core of what Healthy Planet does and who we are.

The Healthy Planet logo, inspired by the Public Health Social Ecological Model, represents our “It Takes A Village” model. The Social Ecological Model was developed to further the understanding of the dynamic interrelations among various personal and environmental factors. From a public health perspective, evidence consistently shows that implementing multiple changes at various levels of the Social Ecological Model is effective in improving eating and physical activity behaviors. Approaches like these have the potential to improve population health if they can be incorporated into existing organizational structures and maintained over time.

This is where Healthy Planet comes in. Healthy Planet targets the same levels of the Social Ecological Model (Individual, Interpersonal, Organizational, Community, and Public Policy), but we believe that the Organizational and Community levels are on the same level, as a community’s strength is directly tied to its organizations, whether it’s a school, community hub, cafe, barber shop, hospital, place of worship, etc.

Healthy Planet’s initiatives each play a distinctive role within this model. Afterall, it takes a village!

The Food Fight Tour

The Food Fight Tour aims to educate students about existing issues in our food world offering interactive and educational workshops focused on food waste. We take groups of students through an introduction of the issue and give them some tools to feel confident in solving the problem. We dive deep. We challenge students to generate big, innovative solutions to the issues, rather than obvious ones. Most importantly, though, we aim to empower kids with the knowledge and confidence for them to make a difference. Our goal is to plant some seeds for sustainable solutions.

How it fits the “It Takes a Village Model”

Individual: The Food Fight Tour aims to impact the individual by challenging each student to look into their own behavior and to channel their skills and passions into an exciting solution to the problem of food waste in their school.

Interpersonal: The Food Fight Tour thrives in an interpersonal level because it uses the principles of improv to challenge kids to work together. “Yes, and” requires individuals to work together and build upon their peer’s ideas. Students develop and prototype ideas alongside their peers. “Make your partner look good” and “let go of your agenda” remind kids to cooperate with one another, giving each person their own valued voice. “Keep moving forward” is a tool we use to keep our projects on track — making the final product the priority, motivates kids to work towards a common goal.

Organizational/Community: The Food Fight Tour impacts schools throughout the Bay Area by challenging their ideas about school lunches. We work with the staff of each school to determine specific areas to improve, providing the opportunity for follow up and action steps throughout the school year to ensure the success of each plan. We seek to connect schools and families with their local resources.

Public Policy: After an assessment of the individual needs of a school, we will take time to work on the policies that need to be improved, changed or enforced in order to better serve the school and community, working with local decision makers.

Healthy Growing

Healthy Growing is a school garden program rooted in hands-on education and community engagement. Students learn about where food comes from and how it’s made.

How it fits the “It Takes a Village Model”

Individual: Students learn not only gardening skills, but also building skills, where food comes from, how it’s made, water conservation principles, composting, nutrition education, how to reduce food waste, and much more. Many schools also implement an Enterprise project, where kids learn how to design and run a business around their garden, learning such skills as budgeting, marketing, and project management.

Interpersonal: Gardening at school is always an activity accomplished with friends, classmates, and teachers. We also often implement a cross-grade Garden Buddy Program, where each student is assigned a buddy, gardening together and doing age-appropriate, project-based lessons together, where the older students teach the younger students. This enables teachers to work together, helps to engage both grade levels, increases knowledge retention among the older students (when you have to teach something, you become an expert in it), reinforces cross-grade positive relationships, and reinforces anti-bullying education. Additionally, a Family Garden Program is often implemented, which gives a number of local families gardening space. This engages the diverse parent community, while also helping with garden maintenance and food insecurity — the families keep whatever they grow. In return, these parents are part of the School Garden Collaborative and are required to help maintain the school gardens.

Organizational/Community: Comedian Stephen Colbert once said something not necessarily meant to be funny, “If the whole community is celebrating health and fitness then everyone else will too.” Engaging the whole community is at the heart of our program. Gardens championed by just one person never last long. As a result, we spend nearly 12 months with a school, engaging with their community, gathering input, and nurturing ownership — including requiring every school to raise at least 25% of the funds. This increases empowerment, ownership, responsibility, and pride, leading to long-term success. Since 2012, 95% of our gardens are still active.

Camp Food Fight

Camp Food Fight is a summer camp that challenges campers to come up with an innovative solution to an issue in our food world through the Deep Dive process. Over the span of one week, campers learn about that session’s Design Challenge, in addition to gardening, horseback riding, cooking, code breaking and more! At the end of the week, campers present their innovative solution to a panel of local food advocates, experts, and entrepreneurs, in addition to their friends and family.

How it fits the “It Takes a Village Model”

Individual: Camp Food Fight impacts the individual by challenging each camper to channel their skills and passions into an exciting and innovative solution to the design challenge they are presented with. We gently push individuals to grow by inviting them to try new games, foods, and experiences. 77% of campers said they ended up liking something they didn’t expect to like.

Interpersonal: While we don’t focus directly on the interpersonal aspects of our campers’ lives, we do invite their family and friends to the final presentation to see the passion, fun, creativity, and even hard work that went into their time at camp, as well as to learn about the issues and solutions themselves. We also invite campers to bring their friends to camp through discounts and referral incentives. This provides an opportunity for the campers to continue to think and practice camp life with their friends after camp is over. It’s also common for parents to tell us stories about how their campers were already implementing changes in their families day-to-day life that improved the food system, for example, making conscious, practical decisions that lead to less food waste.

Organizational/Community: At Camp Food Fight, we bring in local businesses and volunteers to show campers examples of civic engagement. For example, working with Boxed Foods Company, Double J Ranch, and Imperfect Produce, campers gain access to local businesses and organizations. Additionally, our panel of local food advocates, experts and entrepreneurs showcase their success of local community members, providing another opportunity for the campers to connect to these resources for future support and collaboration.

Public Policy: After the campers complete their solutions to their food challenges, we assess if there is any advocacy support needed. We then take time to work on those policy issues, working with local decision makers.