Our mission is to reduce negative impact that food deserts create in our community by providing and empowering students and families with healthier food options, knowledge, and guidance to make long lasting healthier choices.
PROJECT NEED Manual Arts High School supports 1,408 students. Ninety-nine percent of the student-body are students of color; 81% are Hispanic or Latino and 15% are black. Manual Arts is also a Title I school, meaning that 91% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch based on their family income and 7% of students are monitored by social services for being at-risk for homelessness. Many of the students come from immigrant families who fled to the United States to escape the poverty and violence of their home countries. Sixty-nine percent of students speak English as their second language, and 31% of students are not proficient in English. The food options for the students are unhealthy and the lack of safe outdoor space on school grounds and in the surrounding neighborhood keeps the students indoors and inactive. In fact, 48% of students are deemed healthy in terms of their aerobic capacity. TO COMBAT THESE ISSUES, CHICAS VERDES MAINTAINS A SCHOOL GARDEN TO PROVIDE STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS WITH GREEN SPACE AND PRODUCE.
Chicas Verdes hopes to establish a network with other organizations who will help us bring awareness to our school and our surrounding communities. We hope to improve and brainstorm innovative ideas for our upcoming farmer's markets. We hope to be able to host a farmer's market at other surrounding schools in order for others outside our school can be provided with free organic fruits and vegetables. Every other Wednesday, community members are invited to the senior quad for a Chicas Verdes Farmers Market. When they arrive, members are hands a paper bag to fill with vegetables from our school garden as well as vegetables donated by the American Heart Association. Through Chicas Verdes Farmers Markets, community members have taken home over 20,000 pounds of free produce. Chicas Verdes members have also distributed over 300 vegetable seedlings and 40 fruit trees during Farmers Markets.
We also created our own merchandise and dyed it using herbs and avocados. These bags and shirts are sold at farmers markets to increase awareness on campus and to provide students with reusable bags for our markets and everyday use. IN THE FUTURE, WE PLAN ON IMPROVING THIS PROCESS SO WE CAN REACH MORE STUDENTS.
tHIS YEAR, we held a tea making workshop with Fruitstitute where we made our own tea from herbs in the garden. We learned about the medicinal uses of herbs and enjoyed a relaxing tea party! TO EXPAND ON THIS, WE PLAN TO MAKE OUR OWN TEA BAGS FROM PRODUCE WE GROW TO DISTRIBUTE AT FARMERS MARKETS.