A study by Mt. Sinai Urban Health Institute found that Humboldt Park was one of three of Chicago’s food deserts. The study also showed that the consequences are detrimental as it pertains to the health of Humboldt Park residents. With the incident rates of diabetes, obesity and mortality from the two drastically higher than both city and national averages, Humboldt Park residents are faced with a serious dilemma.
Since the foundation of our school, Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School has worked to practice critical pedagogy, where the learning in our classrooms is connected to students’ developing skills to positively transform the world. This framework of liberatory education, with roots to the work of Paulo Freire, challenges our teachers, staff and students to imagine a learning experience that helps to arm our students with the ability to control and ultimately transform the conditions in their neighborhoods.
Our Urban Agriculture initiative is an example of how our science curriculum connects students both to the learning of Illinois State Standards as well as the skills of striking a blow to the reality of our neighborhood’s status as a food desert. Currently, our students interact with a state of the art rooftop greenhouse, several community gardens as well as one half acre of land in Humboldt Park itself. These interactions are both academically and community based as students create organic produce to provide for the community. One goal that we have as a school is for students to connect to their culture as they create their own brand of Sofrito, taking it from seed to distribution.