Lessons Learned from Mobilizing Youth to Prevent Childhood Obesity

Empowering young people from at-risk communities to address root causes of childhood obesity

Dates of Project: February 2011 to April 2013

In the fight against childhood obesity, the ReGenerations: Healthy Communities project worked with 12 youth organizing groups from at-risk communities around the country to help them advocate for better school food. The groups had an impact.

"Most people don't realize the impact young people can have on public policy."—Eric Braxton

Description: Childhood obesity has virtually tripled over the last 30 years, but the potential for youth organizing to help combat this trend has not been fully tapped.

The ReGenerations: Healthy Communities project of the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing tapped that potential. It supported the youth groups with technical assistance and funding as they advocated for access to “healthy, affordable, and culturally relevant” food in schools and communities.

Significant numbers of young people were empowered, gained an understanding of the complex causes of health disparities, and began to see themselves as leaders in creating access to healthy food in their communities.

Seven of the 12 youth organizing groups achieved clear policy victories; three achieved important policy benchmarks, such as creating a school-wide food task force to ensure proper implementation of policies integrating fresh foods into school meals; and two increased their visibility in their communities as stakeholders who should be included in discussions on combating obesity.

A subcontractor on the project, Movement Strategy Center, of Oakland, Calif., developed a food justice curriculum toolkit.

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