For many, food in school brings to mind plastic trays and tater tots. But for a group of teens at Atlas Preparatory High School, food has become an integral credit-earning part of their semesters.
Thanks to a Colorado Springs Health Foundation grant, Colorado Springs Food Rescue (CSFR), a local nonprofit focused on food access and education, has been able to make a greater impact among the halls of the southeast public charter school, and in the broader community. Atlas Prep’s Full Circle Food Team consists of teen interns (20, to date) who, every Thursday, participate in food-system literacy and job readiness training, and, for class credit, manage the school’s weekly Grocery Program, which provides healthy food to area residents.
“Many students who attend Atlas Prep live in areas of town that are considered food deserts,” says Patience Kabwasa, CSFR program director. “There are a lot of intersectional poverty issues that contribute to the lack of access to fresh and healthy food, which also contributes, long-term, to people’s health outcomes. This project is a way to bring access to the community and to also educate future leaders from the community to create community-based solutions to food insecurity, as well as educate on the benefits of healthier eating.”
The curriculum the interns study, Kabwasa says, teaches them about the relationship between food and health, and about inequities in the food system. It gives students the verbiage to understand what is happening around them, what their role in the food system is, and how they can make changes. The direct service component of the Grocery Program, she adds, connects them to local families in their community, and takes them beyond the basic exchange of healthy food to a different level of understanding: “It contributes to empowerment.”
The Full Circle program supports a different kind of empowerment for the Atlas Prep teens too: After a student has participated as an intern, she can go on to apply and interview for a paid mentor position, and after the mentorship ends, she can move on to a paid coordinator job.
Alexa Tomatzin, an Atlas Prep sophomore, first connected with CSFR as a freshman intern. Now a mentor, Tomatzin helps run the school’s Grocery Program and says that the project has impacted her in many ways. “It’s helped me understand the reality of the food system in our country. This program has helped me stand up and fight for what I think is right. … CSFR has impacted the way that I think and act when it comes to talking about one of my greatest passions, food justice.”
“Given the right amount of support and resources, food insecurity can be changed and, through this work, we have discovered so many intersections that also need to be addressed to change the health outcomes of people,” says Kabwasa. “We’re excited that the students at Atlas Prep are taking on a direct responsibility of combating some of those issues to deal with food insecurity and to change the health outcomes of people in their community, because that affects everything. If you have health, you have stamina. Properly nourished, you’re more vitalized in life and at work. You’re better equipped to function better overall.”
CSHF Awards $6MM in Grants
Colorado Springs Health Foundation recently announced $6 million in grant awards to 52 organizations. Some of these awards are multiyear in nature. The grants address three of CSHF’s four focus areas: 1) access to healthcare for those in greatest need; 2) suicide prevention; 3) healthy environments. Here are some additional details:
52 grant awards in total:
44% of these were 1-year awards
10% of these were 2-year awards
46% of these were 3-year awards
Mental health, substance use and suicide prevention are key community concerns. Here’s how the grant awards map to these related issues:
Thirteen grants were made in support of mental health and/or substance use;
Two grants address suicide prevention specifically;
Mental health, substance use and/or suicide prevention-related grants amounted to 25% of the total grants awarded.
Four grant awards were made to Teller County-specific initiatives or organizations;
One award went to a Tri-Lakes-based organization.
CSHF Completes the First
Evaluation of its Work
Colorado Springs Health Foundation recently completed an evaluation of its first year of grantmaking. The goals of the evaluation process were to: 1) inform strategy, 2) assess alignment, and 3) drive learning.
Multiple methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis were used. A third-party evaluation expert, Vantage Evaluation, helped staff develop the evaluation framework and then led the data collection and analysis.
Key takeaways include:
CSHF’s funding focus areas address many, but not all, of the most pressing community needs identified through the process
CSHF’s alignment among its strategy (the funding focus areas), the grants awarded, and the grant applications received is strong
Learning opportunities for both the community and CSHF include health equity (What does this mean? Why is it important? How can we ensure our work addresses equity?) and topics like affordable housing/homelessness.
CHSF’s board and staff are currently in the process of determining how the evaluation findings will be integrated into strategy. Any changes to strategy will be announced by the end of 2018, if not sooner. CSHF’s 2018 evaluation approach has been determined, and work will commence shortly.
CSHF hosted a learning series focused on the evaluation process and outcomes. More than 60 people attended the April 20th session. Slides from that session may be found here.
Help Us Share Our Story
We are interested in ensuring that Pikes Peak region residents know of our presence and our work. After all, it was the Colorado Springs citizens who voted to lease Memorial Health System to UCHealth, which included the establishment of the foundation.
Are you part of a community group or organization that might be interested in learning about us? If yes, let us know. We love meeting new people and sharing our story. Email us at email@example.com or phone us at 719-985-8989 if you’re interested.
A New York Times article on maternal and infant mortality, and the stark differences between/among people of differing race/ethnic origin and why. This is really important for us to understand as it speaks to health equity, the effects of racism on health status, and trauma. It also offers some interesting approaches for remediating the effects of weathering as it relates to pregnancy and childbirth. Here’s a teaser quote:“The reasons for the black-white divide in both infant and maternal mortality have been debated by researchers and doctors for more than two decades. But recently there has been growing acceptance of what has largely been, for the medical establishment, a shocking idea: For black women in America, an inescapable atmosphere of societal and systemic racism can create a kind of toxic physiological stress, resulting in conditions — including hypertension and pre-eclampsia — that lead directly to higher rates of infant and maternal death. And that societal racism is further expressed in a pervasive, longstanding racial bias in health care — including the dismissal of legitimate concerns and symptoms — that can help explain poor birth outcomes even in the case of black women with the most advantages.”