Health and Safety

DHF Health Policy Organizers, Elizabeth Martinez and Yesenia Ocampo, worked with Vecinos Unidos “United Neighbors” of Arvin and Greenfield to establish health and safety committees.

The “Always Fresh” committee collaborated with the Kern County Department of Public Health to conduct the “Smart Lunch Room Assessment” Training along with a cafeteria site visit to assess the cultural relevancy of the foods being served and provide their input for improving the meals and reducing food waste. Many parents became active in the Arvin Union School District (AUSD) Wellness Committee meetings.

They successfully advocated for a policy promoting the purchasing of goods or services from local suppliers benefiting student eating habits, the local economy, and environmental quality. In 2016, 25% of the produce served in school meals was purchased within a 200 mile radius of the Kern County line. That percentage is set to increase every year, with 75% achieved in 2021.

The “Comets for Open Schools” committee facilitated a joint-use agreement between the Arvin Zumba Group and AUSD allowing the use of the gym and cafeteria at Haven Drive Middle School for Zumba classes during the week – an agreement 5 years in the making.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation in partnership with Cultiva La Salud* “Cultivating Health” is working to reduce health disparities among Latinos in Arvin and Greenfield through interventions that address poor nutrition and physical inactivity.

DHF helped organize Fairview Elementary School in Greenfield and the Arvin Union School District to celebrate International Walk to School Day on October 5, 2016. Thousands of students in the Central Valley walked to school along with parents, teachers and community leaders.

Funding is provided by the Public Health Institute, through funding from The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Promoting Physical Activity

In April “Unity in Feet and Wheels” organized a Walking School Bus Event to promote physical activity, teach children pedestrian safety and help to raise awareness about walking and bicycle infrastructure needs in the city. That morning, 3rd grader, Jose Gallegos exclaimed, “This is so fun! I wish we could do it every day!” Jose got his wish. The event was so successful, that it inspired administrators at Sierra Vista Elementary School to work with committee members to launch a daily Walking School Bus Program. In addition, the Unidad en Piez y Ruedas “Unity in Feet and Wheels” Vecinos committee received training on how to effectively advocate through the 2016-2017 District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP.) The committee members attended the LCAP hearing and made recommendations, which led to the allocation of funds for Safe Routes To School district wide.

Leadership Development

Farmworker, Lorena Rojas is a Spanish-speaking mother of three. She met DHF Organizer, Elizabeth Martinez, at a Health Fair at Haven Drive Middle School in Arvin. She attended her first Cultiva la Salud meeting in June 2015 and joined the “Always Fresh” committee working on improving access to healthy food and school wellness policies. She attended DHF parent training workshops where she learned the importance of parent engagement, her rights as a parent, and the structure and function of the school and district. Lorena gained valuable public speaking skills and learned how to make an effective presentation to decision makers. She became active in pushing for a school environment that promotes students’ health, well being, and ability to learn by supporting healthy eating and physical activity. She joined school parent committees such as the English Learner Advisory Committee at the school and district level. After attending the “Gardens in Schools” Training, she began advocating for a community garden at Sierra Vista Elementary School. School administrators now recognize Lorena as a voice of the community. Her community work has inspired changes at home as well. She’s started her own garden, and is now feeding her own family a diet lower in fat and sugar and higher in nutrient rich vegetables and grains. (Pictured right)

CLS organizes educational trainings, fun events and programs. In 2017, CLS will launch the first bike share program (bike library) in South Kern.

Health Advocacy

The Tulare Vecinos Unidos “United Neighbors” continued to learn about increasing opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity to reduce the prevalence of obesity and chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes in their community. They participated in the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) aimed at improving nutrition and physical activity behaviors of low-income families, particularly those with young children. They attended a Project LEAN training focused on helping parents engage in Local School Wellness Policies. DHF Tulare Organizer Irlanda Ramirez, provided additional training to 70 parents on how to advocate for policy improvement at their local school district.

Parents regularly attended Woodlake School District board meetings and made public comments. Through their advocacy, they reactivated a, nearly defunct, School District Wellness Council.

The Tulare Vecinos Parent Committee began working, last year, on a plan to promote a Farm to School Procurement Program in which students gain access to healthy, local foods as well as education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. It became official school policy this fall, empowering children and their families to make informed food choices while strengthening the local economy.

Woodlake Vecino, Maria Teresa Serrano Lara said, “Taking these classes has completely changed my life. Before, my family and I only drank soda. Now we drink nothing but water. I used to have high cholesterol, and now I’m fine. I participate in all this, because I enjoy helping the community. It’s important for our children’s health!”

In May, DHF joined a statewide coalition for a day of action in
Sacramento to encourage legislators to support SB 1418 and
SB 10 to expand health care coverage to all Californians.

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