Two years ago, Escondido Education COMPACT’s CX3 (Communities of Excellence in Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Prevention) program started the Mission Middle School Garden to help their neighborhood of Mission Park become a healthier place to live, work and play. CX3 is a youth-led effort in Escondido that measures the healthy food environment in their community and identifies opportunities for improvement. The idea behind the Mission Middle School Garden was to allow garden volunteers to take home the fresh veggies that they helped grow.
Since then, garden volunteers, who are often Mission Park residents working alongside CX3 youth, have gone through several seasons of harvesting fresh vegetables, all while maintaining at least two garden shifts per week. For the past several months, the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention (NEOP) educator at Escondido Education COMPACT has worked with the CX3 students to incorporate a Harvest of the Month (HOTM) educational component for local residents. The HOTM program has helped CX3 youth educate residents of the Mission Park area about healthier eating habits.
In addition to their garden project, CX3 youth have been advocating for better access to healthy foods in the Mission Park area through a partnership with the local 99 Cent Store to better advertise their healthy options. They have also partnered with the City of Escondido on a mobile vending policy that would allow a farmers market on wheels to come weekly to the Mission Park area.
In addition to the CX3 projects above, the NEOP educator was able to partner with the SMART Food Foundation to hold a monthly food distribution at Mission Middle School to bring whole foods (brown rice, beans etc.) to over 200 families each month. As families started lining up at least an hour before the food distribution, the NEOP educator was able to provide a 30 minute food demonstration and asked participants to complete a short survey. The food distributions have been a great success and are truly impacting the community by increasing access to healthy food.
The CX3 program strives to bring sustainable healthy food to the residents of the Mission Park area. Through the combined efforts of Escondido Education COMPACT and the Escondido Union School District (both Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners), the SMART Food Foundation, the NEOP program and local parent resident groups, the CX3 program has been able to lay the foundation for many successful projects and initiatives.
Article written by Alexandra Murillo, Youth Development Specialist, Escondido Education COMPACT
Community Service & Youth