The Bulletin

Food is Power / Power to Healthy Foods

Tuesday, December 2001


An editorial from the New York Times examines some recent political initiatives to address food inequality and access to healthy foods in urban neighborhoods. Here is an excerpt from the article:

“Foodwise, among the most progressive cities in the country right now is Philadelphia, where the alliance of a forward-thinking mayor and a 19-year-old non-profit is moving things forward. Within a year or two, Philly might be funding better access to real food for its poorest citizens by taxing soda. And if you accept the notion that childhood obesity and the accompanying Type 2 diabetes are big problems, and you’re aware that soda is a major cause, you’ll agree that’s a huge step in the right direction.

Even the present is encouraging, because Philadelphia is figuring out its residents’ food needs and demonstrating that government and non-profits can lead the fight against diet-related diseases by putting real food into the hands of people — especially children — who have trouble finding and affording it.

In 2000, Philadelphia had the second-lowest number of grocery stores per capita of 21 major U.S. cities. Today, many of its poorest residents have improved access to supermarkets and farmers’ markets; at some of the latter, their purchases are subsidized. And Food Trust – the nonprofit behind many of these changes – is further improving access by encouraging hundreds of Philly’s corner stores to sell fresh fruits and vegetables.

Philadelphia is demonstrating that government and non-profits can lead the fight against diet-related diseases by putting real food into the hands of people who have trouble finding and affording it.

Food Trust, which is funded by private foundations, government grants and individual donors, is supported by Mayor Michael Nutter, a former city councilman from an underserved (read: poor) neighborhood. Nutter took office in 2008; while on the Council, he sponsored legislation that banned smoking in restaurants and bars, and he’s a true believer on the food-access issue: “I’m going to invest in this,” he told me in the nearly 120-year-old Reading Terminal Market. “It is to the long-term benefit of the city and our health. Ultimately, it’s going to save us money.”

After meeting with Nutter, I toured town with Food Trust staffers Yael Lehmann, Brian Lang and others. We visited corner stores in North Philadelphia that have enrolled in the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which starts owners with a small cash bonus and, after a trial period, gives them refrigerators (manufactured in North Philly) for stocking fresh fruits and vegetables. (So far around 500 stores have enrolled in the program; most are in the beginning stage.) Unlike the average corner store, these had piles of oranges and bananas by the cash register, and small refrigerator cases with greens, tomatoes and, in at least one instance, bags containing 50 cents’ worth of grapes — sold out on the day I visited. These are not huge changes, obviously, but they’re significant ones.

Another program, Philly Bucks, is a boon to both low-income residents and farmers’-market vendors, and similar to several others around the country. For every $5 in food stamps people spend at participating farmers’ markets, they get an additional $2 in credit: a 40 percent bonus. Seventeen markets now accept Philly Bucks, and food-stamp redemption at farmers’ markets has increased 130 percent since the program began.

Significant, too, is the collaboration among Philadelphia, Food Trust and the state. In 2004 Pennsylvania set up a grants and loans program called the Fresh Food Financing Initiative, encouraging the opening of supermarkets in poor neighborhoods. Since then, 26 new supermarkets have opened, rehabbed or expanded in underserved parts of the city….” (article continues)
(click here to continue reading the article at its source)
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Go Philly! article posted April 5, 2011
by Mark Bittman

Promoting a "Less Is More" Approach To Learning

Tuesday, December 2001

A Princeton Professor Champions a Waldorf-style Model for Innovation & Experimental Thinking

A recent perspective piece in CNN World (in partnership with TIME Magazine) promotes the values at the heart of Waldorf pedagogy, to wit, the philosophy that creative time and open-ended structures foster experimentation and innovation in ways that regimented training for achievement cannot. Anne-Marie Slaughter,the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, offers her perspective:

Rebellion of an Innovation Mom

Call it the rebellion of the mother of two adolescents against the Tiger Moms, but what this nation needs to be innovative and entrepreneurial is to ask our kids to do less.

Innovation requires creativity; entrepreneurship requires a willingness to break the rules. The jam packed, highly structured days of elite children are carefully calculated to create Ivy League-worthy resumes. They reinforce habits of discipline and conformity, programming remarkably well-rounded and often superb young people who can play near concert-quality violin, speak two languages, volunteer in their communities and get straight A’s.

These are the students that I see in my Princeton classes; I am often in awe of their accomplishments and teaching them is a joy. But I strongly suspect that they will not be the inventors of the next “new new thing”.

Creativity requires a measure of random association and connection and substantial periods of down time, where the mind is allowed to run and turn over seemingly disconnected bits of information, images, and ideas. Richard Florida, author of The Creative Class (follow him on Twitter at @richard_florida), observes that “many researchers see creative thinking as a four-step process: preparation, incubation, illumination and verification or revision.”

To nurture young people who are willing to persevere in the face of deep skepticism or outright opposition, we must reward them or at least allow them to be rewarded for breaking the rules…

Incubation is “the ‘mystical’ step,” one in which both the conscious mind and the subconscious mull over the problem in hard-to-define ways.” Hard to define, yes, but not hard to foster, as long as chunks of the day or the week are left open for relatively random activity: long walks, surfing the Internet, browsing a bookstore, household chores that don’t require too much thought, watching the birds at the birdfeeder and gazing out at the ocean.

Creativity gurus often suggest ways to add randomness to your life. Left to their own devices, teenagers are masters at drifting from fad to fad, website to website, and event to event as their fancy takes them, but that seemingly aimless, random wandering is exactly what we are programming out of them.

Entrepreneurship means undertaking something new, something that you create or make happen that does not exist in your space. It does not have to require breakthrough innovation; successful entrepreneurs can borrow ideas that are succeeding elsewhere and transfer them. But our most famous entrepreneurs have a vision and follow it in defiance of conventional wisdom.

One of the nation’s leading entrepreneurs recently listened to me pitch a new idea and patiently told me the many reasons it was unlikely to work and/or that I was the wrong person to make it happen at this point in my life. But at the end of our conversation, he smiled and said: “Of course, every successful entrepreneur started with an idea that other people said would not work but persevered anyway. So go for it.”

To nurture young people who are willing to persevere in the face of deep skepticism or outright opposition, we must reward them or at least allow them to be rewarded for breaking the rules, not meeting our expectations by jumping through an endless series of hoops.

Remember that Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college to follow their passions.

Can we really imagine kids who have done absolutely everything expected of them both in and out of school being willing to ignore their college courses and their parents’, teachers’, and coaches’ expectation to suddenly pursue their own path?

The U.S. higher educational system recognizes the value of challenging authority; that is what “teaching critical thinking” is all about. I wrote in 2009 that the U.S. was primed to remain an innovation leader precisely because we give A’s for the answers that challenge the teacher’s thinking and B’s for the answers that echo it….(Click here to read the rest of the article at its source.)

Note: Author, Anne-Marie Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. Follow her on Twitter at @slaughteram.

Special to CNN posted on June 5th, 2011

 

High School Academic Support for Students

Tuesday, December 2001

Is your High School student needing more feedback on their work? Are they having trouble completing a homework assignment?  Does your son/daughter feel unprepared for an upcoming quiz or test?  How can he/she get academic assistance when not in class?  High School students are encouraged to advocate for their needs in the following ways:

During the School Day – The first step in seeking help is to approach a teacher right after class.  Questions and concerns may be resolved then, or if lengthier assistance is needed, a meeting time will be scheduled during lunch, morning break, or before/after school.

Lunchtime Homework Room – Students may drop in to Lunchtime Homework Room (located in the library—2nd floor of the High School) on any given day for help with math or simply to have a quiet place to study.  Homework Room is scheduled during first and second lunch, and is staffed by Mr. Jim Davis, our new math teacher.

Before or After School – Whenever a student needs help, but is unable to speak with a teacher directly after class, the student may request a meeting time with the teacher via a visit to the teacher’s classroom or by leaving a note in the teacher’s mailbox in the High School office.

At Home – Teachers will provide information about homework assignments via a syllabus and/or their online classroom resources board, in addition to assigning tasks verbally and in writing on the classroom blackboard.  Parents and students may also communicate with teachers via e-mail (the preferred method) or telephone.  In general, faculty will respond to phone calls and e-mails within 48 hours.