June 1, 2018

Two moms on a mission to change how children eat

Young people drive change through food and music

Getting ready to enjoy a healthy lunch. Photo: Food Revolution

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions individuals and organizations are creating in their communities. Want to share a story from your hometown? Email us at info@therenewalproject.com.

The lunchroom as launchpad for healthy eating: Remember those tasteless, and sometimes revolting, school lunches of your youth? So do moms Kristin Groos and Kristen Saenz, co-founders of Revolution Foods, a company on a mission “to build lifelong healthy eaters by making kid-inspired, chef-crafted, food accessible to all,” according to Revolution Food’s website. What began as a project for local schools has developed into a retail operation. The company focuses on using all-natural ingredients, with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring, flavors or sweeteners. The revolution is what the founders aim to start outside the cafeteria. “To us, the front line of education is the lunch line,” the company says. “It’s not just about serving healthy meals, it’s about nurturing healthier habits.” Revolution Food partners with other organizations to provide classroom instruction and off-campus workshops, including hands-on activities that encourage student interest and involvement in healthy eating.

Budding music moguls learn valuable life skills: Building Beats, a New York-based nonprofit, is cultivating the next generation of passionate leaders using music as its vehicle. . The group teaches low-income students as young as third grade how to be a DJ or music producer using free, cloud-based software. Building Beats taps into student passion for music “as a pathway to build entrepreneurial skills,” the group’s website says. “We provide students with the structure, tools and knowledge necessary to become self-directed, creative producers who harness their creative potential to benefit their community.” Launched in 2013, the group achieves two goals: filling the music-education gap present in many New York schools and teaching universally applicable problem-solving skills. “We want to empower young people with the technology they have available around them,” founder Phi Pham told NationSwell. “The 21st century is all about remixing different tools, different products together, and we think music is a good starting point to teach students those fundamentals.” So far, the group has served 3,000 students in in 50 schools.

A ‘superhero’ for the homeless: Austin Perine is not your average superhero.. Less than four feet tall and more than a decade from getting his driver’s license, four-year-old Austin is on a self-described mission to feed the homeless. Donning his Superman cape, with his trusted sidekick-father by his side, Austin swoops into neighborhoods delivering chicken sandwiches to the homeless. After learning that some people were actually homeless in the world—not to mention hungry—Austin told his mom and dad that he wanted to donate the money they would spend on toys for him to buy chicken sandwiches for the homeless. And like all great superheroes Austin has a catch phrase: After handing out each sandwich he says, “Don’t forget to show love.”

The Renewal Project