Social Entrepreneurs Fight Obesity with 10,000 Healthy Lunches

According to Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation, more than one in three 10 to 17 year olds in Louisiana are overweight. To fight childhood obesity, 10,000 healthy lunches are being delivered to public schools throughout New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The issue of obesity is just one social issue that Propeller and its 2012 Fellows are taking on.

Propeller uses its social entrepreneurship and innovative experience to help launch, “financially sustainable social ventures that tackle social problems.” Formerly known as SENO (Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans), the non profit has recently taken on 14 companies and cause with more than 25 social innovators to accelerate their solutions to social problems into successful, fully operational ventures.

“Our schools, students, and families told us they wanted a healthier, higher-quality school lunch, and we are thrilled that in our first year we will bring the healthy school lunch program to 20 percent of New Orleans public school students.  We have changed the school food contracting process to tackle Louisiana’s obesity epidemic as children from high-poverty backgrounds typically consume the majority of their calories at school.  In addition, this is a significant economic opportunity for our local farmers since vendors are required to buy local as part of the Healthy Foods RFP, and it has previously been almost impossible for small farmers to crack the farm-to-school market,” explained Andrea Chen, Executive Director at Propeller.

Healthy food vendor Revolution Foods was recruited for this endeavor, as was Propeller Fellow James Graham, who is also the KIPP Director of Federal Grants and Contracts. Graham helped to launch the KIPP New Orleans Schools healthy meals School Food Authority (SFA). Part of this program allows charter schools to choose their own vendor and more than 28 of the charter school sites are now contractually committed to healthy foods for the kids. Propeller is providing more than $190,000 in grant funding for this to happen.

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