Harlem Children’s Zone’s Promise Academy
Founded in 1970, Harlem Children’s Zone is an innovative nonprofit organization that offers a holistic network of education, social service and community-building programs to children and families in central Harlem. They currently serve over 10,000 at-risk children, and run the Promise Academy Charter Schools, which are open to public school students through an annual lottery.
Recognizing the connection between student health and academic success, Harlem Children’s Zone has an initiative designed to reduce the epidemic levels of obesity in Harlem. The Promise Academy kitchen serves students a healthy breakfast and lunch each day free of charge. As much as possible, the menu incorporates locally grown ingredients, and the food is both low in fat and low in salt. No fried foods or sugary desserts are served, and there are no vending machines available. In addition, the schools offer healthy cooking classes to students and their parents to help teach them how to prepare healthy meals on their own, and also run a subsidized farmers market in an effort to encourage families to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables at home as well as at school.