The California Endowment and Valley Vision Celebrate Five Years of Impact
For almost six years, Valley Vision has had the opportunity to participate in The California Endowment’s Building Healthy Communities initiative – a 10-year strategic approach to addressing issues associated with poverty-created poor health outcomes and “improving the conditions under which young people in underserved communities can be healthy and thrive.” The California Endowment just released their five year report, which can be read here.
The report focuses on a number of important lessons learned throughout the initiative’s first five years. One particularly important lesson is the need to help raise the voice of community leaders. For the first five years of the BHC, Valley Vision was able to serve as facilitator for the Sacramento Region Food System Collaborative, which brought together leaders in community organizations from across the region working to create a more equitable food system.
We are proud to have been early participants in this leadership-building local food system work, which has evolved into the Sacramento Food Policy Council and other important efforts across the region. We are thrilled to be able to continue our work with Sacramento City Unified School District in support of the Healthy Foods Task Force, convening those working in and across the school district to bring a change in the food culture in SCUSD; the Coordinated School Health Committee, which is revising the federally-mandated School Wellness Policy to create a healthier environment for our students; and the SCUSD School Board’s central kitchen task force, driving the school district’s efforts to build a central kitchen and provide healthy, scratch-cooked meals for 48,000 students – the majority of whom live in low-income communities and often deal with food insecurity in their homes. All of these projects are transformative in their own right, but the BHC initiative brings together otherwise independent actors to make authentic change possible.
Throughout this work, we have been able to participate in the South Sacramento BHC’s Food Access Team, the Healthy Food for All Coalition, which has been expertly led by Soil Born Farms. Through this work I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with people and organizations who may not be known throughout the region, but who are quietly (or not so quietly) driving change in our local food system and creating access to healthy food for all of our communities, starting with the BHC. People like Randy Stannard, Executive Director of Oak Park Sol who is helping develop and sustain community gardens throughout Sacramento; Chanowk and Judith Yisrael who turned a plain backyard into Yisrael Family Farm, a thriving urban ag educational project; and Shannon Hardwicke, who started as an engaged parent at Theodore Judah Elementary School’s school garden and now manages Soil Born Farm’s Growing Together initiative, which includes multiple garden sites throughout the district and its own curriculum. These folks are true changemakers and have been incredible partners in advancing a healthier community – thank you!
We thank The California Endowment for their willingness to try out this innovative approach to making an impact, supporting the great work happening in Sacramento, and for letting Valley Vision be a part of it. The learnings from the first five years will certainly make the next five years all the more impressive, and we can’t help but be excited for what’s next!
Robyn Krock is a Project Leader managing Valley Vision’s food and agriculture portfolio.