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The First Annual
Saturday, March 29, 2014
C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Center @ The Commons

What a day!…There were over 175 of Atlanta Public School's Student Wellness Ambassadors, their teachers and parents as well as over 125 guests in attendance from the Metropolitan Atlanta area. It was a day for focusing upon food access, nutrition education, food consumption and fitness in Atlanta's Fourth Ward neighborhood. There were 30 exhibits ranging from garden fresh snack samples to at-home fitness tips!

To get the Summit started, Atlanta's Councilman Cesar Mitchell made remarks of welcome about the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and keeping physically active everyday. Which was perfect because, the Atlanta Public School's Student Wellness Ambassadors, came ready to learn. Next, we gave all the children a short survey that included questions like; 1) What is a food desert?, 2) How many servings of fruits and vegetables should you eat every day? and, 3) How many minutes per day should you be physically active? Then we all watched an excellent short video created by Georgia State University's School of Social Work featuring Atlanta's solutions to Food Deserts.

Best of all, Hillary S. Dunson, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Chairman of the Board and Vanetta S. Keyes, C.H.O.I.C.E.S. Executive Director, were there to introduce an expert panel of community leaders that came specifically to answer questions posed by Atlanta Public School's Student Wellness Ambassadors! The panel was moderated by Donald Speaks Director, Atlanta Promise Neighborhoods at the Morehouse School of Medicine and consisted of: Sara Berney, Executive Director at Wholesome Wave Georgia, Juan Garcia-Sanchez, J.D., Legislative & Policy Analyst at City of Atlanta's Office of Sustainability, Cicely Garrett, Food Systems Innovation Manager at Georgia Food Bank Association, Justin Gilette, Executive Chef at Sodexo in partnership with Jackmont Hospitality, Adena Hill, Advocacy Coordinator at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Jammie Hopkins, DrPh, Project Director for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center For Health Disparities Research at Morehouse School of Medicine, Rob Johnson, Vice President of Community Services at the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Rashid Nuri, Chief Executive Officer at Truly Living Well and Jay Tribby, Chief of Staff for Councilman Kwanza Hall for the Atlanta City Council, District 2.

Thankfully, the panel explained everything in a way that was easy for kids and adults to understand. They answered questions like,"What is gluten?", "What can I eat if I don't like vegetables?" and "What is the Office of Sustainability?". They also reminded us about finding ways to cut down on our carbon footprint.

Atlanta Food Deserts – Raising Awareness

After the panel and the video presentations were done, the children were given the same short survey again. And guess what? They were paying attention! Many of the children even wrote down their own ideas for solving food deserts. Almost all of the children promised to make at least one positive change in their food or fitness habits at home. Way to go kids! We plan to keep in touch with all 20 of the Atlanta Public Schools that attended the Food Advocacy Summit. We will  continue to help these Student Wellness Ambassadors share what they have learned with other students at their schools.
Want to know more? Please be sure to "Like us" on Facebook and "Follow us" on Twitter. Join in the social media conversation about national food desert solutions by tweeting #FOODDESERT

A special thanks to the Atlanta Public School Department of Nutrition
and to everyone that made it possible for children from these schools to attend:

Benteen Elementary School, Boyd Elementary School, Cascade Elementary School,
Continental Colony Elementary School, DH Stanton Elementary School,
Garden Hills Elementary School, Charles L. Gideons Elementary School,
Kimberly Elementary School, Parkside Elementary School,
Peyton Forest Elementary School, Scott Elementary School, Toomer Elementary School,
Bunche Middle School, Coretta Scott King Middle School, Price Middle School,
Sutton Middle School, Young Middle School. Crim High School,
North Atlanta High School and Therrell High School. 


We sincerely thank these community organizations for their participation:
Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Botanical Gardens,
Atlanta Community Food Bank, Cooking Matters, Community Farmers Markets,
First Congregational Church, Fuel Up To Play 60,
Great American Bus Interactive Education (G.A.B.I.E.), Georgia Organics,
Keyes In The Kitchen, Mercer University College of Pharmacy, Nike Better Health,
Right From The Start Medicaid, Southeast Dairy Association,Truly Living Well,
Wellcare of Georgia, Wholesome Wave Georgia and Chef Marvin Woods.

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