Sullivan High School: Developing a Healthy Food Culture
The Good Food Project has been working at this Rogers Park High School since 2008. Sullivan students know the names of popular, as well as obscure, apple varieties and can discuss their attributes. They have tasted summer fruits (cherries, red raspberries, black raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, and nectarines), dried fruits, and citrus. And they still wanted more! In November of 2009, Sullivan’s social worker, Noe Torres contacted us to ask about expanding our work at Sullivan. We developed a plan to build on the interest that the GFP apple tastings have generated among Sullivan students and faculty, and to find funding to carry out the plan. After numerous conversations with Mr. Torres, Vice Principal Mr. Velazquez, teachers, and Michigan apple farmers, we put together a plan to create a new and healthy food culture at Sullivan High.
The plan includes:
- bringing additional tastings of real food to classrooms;
- starting a farm market where students can sell fresh-from-the-farm apples and/or other real food;
- providing teachers with the option of using fruit in classroom celebrations
- creating an alternative to the junk food sold to raise funds for sports teams and other activities.
On October 28, 2010, Sullivan held the first-of-its-kind high school farm market. Students sampled and sold 1,000 pounds of four varieties of farm-fresh Michigan apples: Honeycrisp, Fuji, Nittany, and Cameo. The Sullivan High School Farm Market was a huge success, in part because it was embraced by the special education faculty and students with autism. Special education teacher, Ben Hofmann, had this to say about the market:
“Without a doubt, the development of a Farmer’s Market at Sullivan High School was a huge success on a number of different levels. First of all, one thousand pounds of apples were sold or given away as free samples to a student body that does not always have access to such high quality fruit. Second, our student employees and volunteers gained critical vocational experiences that can be added to resumes. Third, the sale itself helped improve critical social skills for students with special needs such as autism through repeated interactions with a large number of classmates. Finally, the Good Food Project helped to empower the students in Sullivan’s autism classroom to play a substantial role in providing healthy foods to everyone in the Sullivan community.”
The following year, students conducted four markets—one apple, two citrus, and one dried fruit. We have plans to create the first student-operated fruit stand at Sullivan.