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Picture of Kelley Atherton

I attended a meeting Tuesday evening where I felt real inspiration.

As I listed to members of a grassroots organization, the Children's Health Collaborative, dialogue about problems with school meals and children's nutrition and their ideas, I felt the their energy. I had to restrain myself from jumping in and asking questions. I was just there to get a sense of what these people are tyring to accomplish. I felt terrible for not attending any of their meetings before because I could have been there right alongside them from the group's inception in February. I kept hearing about these doctors, parents, farmers, school officials who want to find solutions to the problem we all know exist; I was glad I finally found the time and they were glad I was there.

I was ready to pound the pavement and do some reporting. My next steps will be eating lunch with elementary and high school students to see what they eat at school (and hopefully some insight into what they eat at home) and if the food is really terrible.

Several members of the collaborative are upset about a local entrepreneur who sells junk food and soda out of a van across the street from the high school every day at lunch (it's an open campus). I've been hearing about this woman and her van of gluttony for months, whenever her name is mentioned, I can't help but chuckle at the siutation.

The way nutrition education based at the local high school tell it, they try to make fruits and veggies and water appealing to students in class and then watch them run across the parking lot to buy junk food. They're frustrated and want to take action to at least get her to move her van further from the school (she's already off district property). She has a right to free enterprise and is not breaking any laws, but what she does for a living seems so wrong. I want to watch this exodus of students from the high school to the junk food van, see what the kids buy and their thoughts on what they're putting into their bodies and talk to this business owner and give her a chance to explain herself.

Caring about wht I'm writing about and feeling a sense of urgency to learn more reminds that I'm so lucky to have a career that I love doing.



The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 National Fellowship will provide $2,000 to $10,000 reporting grants, five months of mentoring from a veteran journalist, and a week of intensive training at USC Annenberg in Los Angeles from July 16-20. Click here for more information and the application form, due May 5.

The Center for Health Journalism’s 2023 Symposium on Domestic Violence provides reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity. The next session will be offered virtually on Friday, March 31. Journalists attending the symposium will be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from our Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund. Find more info here!


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