HEALTHY LUNCH, HEALTHY LIFE
SCHOOL FOOD REVOLUTION, ONE PROGRAM AT A TIME
VISTA VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITY, PACIFIC HIGH SCHOOL, SITKA, ALASKA
Pacific High School (PHS) has a unique school lunch program, in which fresh, nutritious, homemade lunches are prepared and served by students. Our VISTA goal is to alleviate poverty in Southeast Alaska by developing and documenting this lunch program into a replicable model that includes farm-to-school and summer food service / student employment programs.
High school students are powerful connectors between schools, families, and communities. By providing healthy, homemade food to students, they learn to enjoy it, and bring that enjoyment back to their families. By teaching students to grow nutritious food and to prepare it from scratch in a commercial setting, students gain valuable skills for employment and home economics. Culturally, Southeast Alaska high school students are adults, and these skills give them something to give back to their communities. The effects are generational, as students share their food, their nutrition knowledge, and their skills with their families of origin, communities, and future families. Good nutrition is a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty— it is indisputably linked to long-term physical and emotional health, as well as education and employment success.
PHS is a small alternative school of choice located in Sitka, Alaska. Founded in 1992, PHS serves youth ages 14-21 at risk of dropping out. Students work toward a high school diploma and to acquire the skills necessary to live a successful life. At any given time, about 35 students attend PHS, but over 50 students pass through our doors each year due to high transiency rates. A majority of PHS students are Alaska Native, and nearly all are eligible for free or reduced lunch, with about half experiencing homelessness and 15% pregnant or parenting.
The VISTA will focus on four main tasks to build the sustainability and replicability of this experiential education meal program:
1. Create a complete Program Manual and Implementation Guide to support
sustainability and replication of the PHS Healthy Lunch, Healthy Life program.
2. Develop potential replication partnerships and share the program
successes with Alaska school districts, youth programs, private schools, and news outlets.
3. Plan for future expansion of PHS Healthy Life, Healthy Lunch program
to include summer food service and school-garden-to-lunch programs.
4. Create and implement evaluation tools to determine the impact of
Benefits include: Monthly living allowance ($1178), relocation costs ($0.34/ mile up to $1000) and settling in allowance ($550) for candidates moving 50+ miles, health benefits, child care assistance, all expenses paid training in Los Angeles, and an Education Award ($5,550).
Sitka is a town of about 9,000 people located on Baranof Island on the Southeast Alaskan panhandle, immediately adjacent to the Tongass National Forest. Rich in cultural resources and natural beauty, Sitka is a tight-knit community with a strong volunteer ethic. There is a significant and growing community interest in food systems and sustainability in Sitka, and this position will have the opportunity to shape that movement over the next one to two years. A successful volunteer may be able to write him/herself into a position beyond the VISTA commitment.
The ideal candidate for this position will have a passion for food revolution and the desire to make systemic changes. A good understanding of basic nutrition, cooking skills, and food systems is required. Excellent written communication and attention to detail is also required. The volunteer will work independently and as part of a team. Training will be provided in the PHS lunch program, National School Lunch Program regulations, and Logic Model planning for program development.
For more information and to apply, go to https://my.americorps.gov/mp/listing/viewListing.do?id=48535&fromSearch=true