Can Doing ONE Thing Really Create Change?

  • Policy & Advocacy
  • May 06, 2015
  • By: Mara Fleishman
  • Comments

​When it comes to solving big problems, sometimes we need to take things one step at a time.  School food reform is a BIG, multi-faceted issue, and working with your district to create change can feel like biting off more than you can chew. Finding the right solutions for each school and each community can be challenging, but if we take the problem and break it down into bite size pieces, the work ahead of us suddenly becomes more palatable.

Many people ask me about what they can do to fix their school’s food.  They tell me about what is going on in their school, the awful lunches their kids are being served, and how it seems like nobody is listening to their concerns. I know they are looking for a magic bullet solution. Unfortunately there is no magic bullet, no secret sauce.  Creating a healthier school food program takes time, patience, resilience and dogmatic approach.

For those willing to go the distance, who want to activate their community and work with their school district to create change, I highly recommend using our Parent Advocacy Toolkit.  This resource guides you through school food advocacy in three clear steps: getting educated, getting organized and taking action. The toolkit takes a long-term approach to improving school food, providing the tools needed every step of the way to effectively communicate the school food needs and concerns of the community to the district.

But, if you don’t have that kind of time, then just Do One Thing. There are so many things that I feel strongly about that used to weigh on me like a ton of bricks. I felt guilty about not doing something to help women’s rights in developing countries, or saving our oceans, or reducing the amount of waste our family produces. I care about all of these things, but I am only one human. When I felt the weight of what it would take to create change in these areas, I was paralyzed by it, until I started adopting the “Do One Thing” approach:  reading one article, making a small donation, reusing our take-out containers. My actions weren’t creating big change, but they made me feel proactive about the issues I was passionate about. I got to thinking if everyone just did one thing, I bet together we could make a pretty big difference. 

That is the philosophy behind Chef Ann Foundation’s “Do One Thing” initiative. Not everyone is going to take on school food reform in their communities, but most people can and will do one thing, whether it’s eating lunch with their kids in the cafeteria to see what school lunch is about, cooking a healthy meal with their child, planting some vegetables this summer, or looking at their school’s wellness policy. The more people do one thing, the closer we get to creating big picture change.

Each month the Chef Ann Foundation will promote one thing you can do to support healthy lifestyles for kids. A lot of our Do One Thing’s will focus on improving school food, but certainly not all. The initiative gives you an opportunity to participate in change one small step at a time.

A perfect example of how effective Doing One Thing can be is signing Jamie Oliver’s Food Education Petition  to show your support for food and nutrition education in every school, for every child. This is a huge hole in our current education system and paramount to instilling healthier eating habits in our kids. Think about it - if you give a kid broccoli instead of chips without telling them why the broccoli is important for their body, then you’re fighting an uphill battle.  And while adding one signature to a petition might not feel like making a huge difference, when over 762,000 people choose to do this one thing, a big statement is made.    

So, the next time you are staring at a big problem and start to feel overwhelmed by it, don’t beat yourself up, just Do One Thing. Because if everybody does one thing, we start on the path towards creating real change. 

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