Posted on Fri, November 13, 2009 by Jerusha Klemperer
0 Comments | Categories: Food Justice, School Food,
by intern Jessica Weiland
With the help of online social networks, our countrys young adults seem to be mobilizing. Were Fed Up is one of these networks and a highly effective venue for honest communication concerning one touchy topic: obesity. The group was created by 40 youth leaders from South Los Angeles and Baldwin Park. These students have partnered up with the Department of Public Health in LA County, The California Center for Public Health Advocacy, and The Accelerated School in South Los Angeles to create positive environment within their communities to encourage fitness, promote healthy eating choices, and combat obesity. The Were Fed Up Network now has 438 members.
Their website has a section that provides resources for proper nutrition information, fast food facts, and physical activity. It also has information for youth groups about how to empower others. The students provide links that touch on how to mobilize your community or how to attract media attention to further your cause. Another tab connects you to Food Art, Youth In Action, and several other like-minded groups. There is a section that links you to related video or photo content ranging from a Were fed up trailer to an image of a glaring neon sign advertising chocolate covered bacon.
They have two interactive communication components on their webpagea forum and a blog (both are maintained by the groups founding youth leaders). The forum addresses topics ranging from celebrities, fitness, and finding healthy role models, to releases of obesity related documentaries. The blog posts, open and informal, have similar content: news of a Senate hearing exploring the link between sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity, a call for any exercise related research paper ideas, and a smattering of healthy recipes. One teen proudly exclaims how she just joined a gym and loves it! while another urges people to think before they down a bag of potato chips.
But a small note while digging through the Were Fed Up blog archives, I was surprised by the absence of entries that discussed healthier school lunches. Perhaps theyve written off school lunch as another unhealthy option. Still, Americas high school students are important stakeholders in the 2010 Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization and it is important that school lunch be part of their conversation. Were Fed Up has demonstrated that they are leaders in initiating an honest, constructive discussion about their health. Now they need leaders to engage youth networks in school lunch reform.
The youth involved in the network have a very good sense of how to make people connect to a problem: by offering up timely, simple, even fun solutions coupled with a call to action. This is one common trend in the Were Fed Up blog—the reader is frequently provided with a tangible way to engage with the issue. Throughout my research of similar youth groups, Ive found that that while call to action, creative, timely media, and instantaneous interactivity all enhance popular allure of youth networks, much of the success of these groups like Were Fed Up lies in their created by youth and for youth nature. Here, that good old bandwagon effect is working positively. Parents have been trying for years to make eating vegetables excitingthe classic ants on a log technique to get celery down the hatch, the ever-present broccoli trees approach, heck, I dealt with string bean story time and banana dances. Yet this age of un-cool methods to make healthful eating fun could be coming to an end as these networks make discussing health and nutrition something Americas youth wants to be a part of.