The Baltimore Algebra Project: Organizing for Better School Food

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

Seeking to combat adolescent obesity, staff and student volunteers from the Baltimore Algebra Project campaigned for healthy and affordable foods in the city's high schools and won!

Dates of Project: February 2011–April 2013

Description: Through ReGenerations: Healthy Communities, funded by RWJF, the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing selected 12 youth organizing groups from at-risk communities around the country and supported them as they advocated for healthy food in their schools and communities. The Baltimore Algebra Project was one of the 12 groups selected to participate.

Story: The Baltimore Algebra Project won an agreement from the city school district to have salad bars in all high schools with sufficient applications for free and reduced price meals—and convinced the school district to hire a salad bar coordinator.

The students also conducted research on the issue of childhood obesity with the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, surveyed thousands of students across the district to get their opinions on school food.

"The students have been taught powerlessness and organizing gets people to understand that they have a say and a way to go about things."—Project Director Jamal Jones

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The Baltimore Algebra Project successfully campaigned for salad bars in the city's high schools