Category: Winter 2016

Culinary Style and Grace

December 5, 2016 No Comments


On December 1st, AUNI Nutrition Educator Sophia Canady had the opportunity to volunteer with Universal Audenried Charter High School’s culinary scholars at the Evening of Style and Grace Fashion Show and Fundraiser presented by Faatimah and Kenneth Gamble at the University of the Arts. The Winter Wonderland theme was lovely and the students did a terrific job cooking and catering for the event.

(December 1, 2016 / Photo by Sophia Canady)

Reel Work: Food Justice Movie Night

April 1, 2016 No Comments

by AUNI Social Media Intern Andre Platts


Do you really know who grows the corn for your Chipotle burrito bowl? Do you know who harvests the beans for your grande iced coffee at Starbucks? That’s done by hardworking people who toil from morning until night harvesting fruits and vegetables, only to get paid a fraction of what that product costs. This is why we  celebrate National Farmworker Awareness Week. This week is special to us here at AUNI because we are chefs. But we are also farmers, so we like to celebrate those workers who don’t have as much privilege or as much freedom as we do. For instance, many don’t know that the large multi-million dollar food companies that hire these workers usually don’t even pay them the U.S. minimum wage ($7.25).

DSC_0058On Wednesday, March 23rd, Sayre High School’s G-Squad crew celebrated National Farmworker Awareness Week by hosting Food Justice Movie Night at The Rotunda (4014 Walnut Street) in West Philadelphia. We host this event every year to educate people on how their food gets to them and about the hardships farmworkers face. This year’s movie was East of Salinas, a film about migrant farm workers in California’s Salinas Valley and the effect their work has on their children’s education and lives. Some G-Squad crew members prepared food and others greeted people as they entered The Rotunda.  

DSC_0050Before the show, G-Squad crew members Bobby Dixon, Rya McLead and I took turns speaking with the audience about the upcoming film and encouraging them to enjoy the snacks we prepared and delicious burritos donated by Honest Tom’s Tacos. Then special guest Katya Botwinick, the Grants and Special Projects Manager at Friends of Farmworkers Inc., welcomed the crowd and gave them some context about the current plight of local and national farmworkers just before the lights dimmed for the movie.

After East of Salinas ended, we asked members of the audience to break into groups and discuss questions like, “What’s still circling in your mind after the movie?” and “What did you see from a new perspective?” We heard some interesting and thought-provoking responses from the crowd.


This is the second time I have attended Food Justice Movie Night, and my personal thought was that it’s very sad to see things like this going on. I knew that my food was picked and handled by migrant and undocumented farm workers. However, I had no idea they lived in such horrible conditions. So this movie opened my eyes to something new, and I hope everyone will experience that same thing when they watch the film.

Dancing for Health

March 22, 2016 No Comments

by AUNI Social Media Intern Andre Platts

AUNI students strike a pose with our lovely Penn nurse practitioner students.

On February 2nd, several AUNI youth interns teamed up with nurse practitioner students at the Penn Nursing School to kick off a five-week Dance for Health partnership. During that first meeting, we learned about each other during an orientation, and the students taught us how to measure height and weight, take pulses, and how to use a stethoscope. Over the course of the following four Tuesday afternoons, we focused on different diet-related diseases, learned about BMI  (Body Mass Index), and came up with our own set of exercises to combat unhealthy amounts of fat.


In our lesson on heart health, the nurse practitioner students taught us about different types of  heart disease, such as heart attacks, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure, as well as the different parts of the heart and ways to keep it healthy with regular exercise and a good diet. They later taught us about diabetes and how it could also be prevented it by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet. We also learned about “good” and “bad” sugar, and that fruits contain naturally occurring sugar along with important vitamins and minerals.


Speaking of fruit, each week we got to create delicious, healthy recipes. We had the pleasure of making our own parfaits using healthy and organic ingredients like strawberries, blueberries, guava, grapes, Greek or low-fat yogurt, and granola. One day, two teams competed against each other to see who could create the most delicious smoothie. After all was said and done, it was a delicious tie between a good tasting and good for you Mixed Berry Smoothie and a savory-sweet Almond Butter and Banana Smoothie.  It wasn’t all sweet; one week we made guacamole with foods proven to lower cholesterol such as avocados, onions, sweet peppers, and limes.


On Thursdays came the most fun part — the dancing! The Dance for Health program exists because Penn nurse practitioner students and AUNI youth interns want to help people in the community lead a more healthy lifestyle. It takes place in the William L. Sayre Rec Center because it is open and accessible for people in the area, and we met many interesting people from the West Philadelphia community and beyond. Each Thursday, we measured the height, weight and heart rates of community participants, and they each received a pedometer. Then we got started on the dance floor, where some the AUNI youth couldn’t keep up with some of the older dancers.  

On the last Thursday of the Dance for Health partnership, AUNI youth interns put together a quick and informative outreach to educate community participants about who we are and what we do. It was surprising to see how many people cared and wanted to know more about projects like the Good Food Bag CSA program. We even got to make our special smoothies for the participants. Overall, Dance For Health was an amazing experience. We learned a lot and could see that some of the nurse practitioner students learned a lot from us too.

We’re Hiring!

March 17, 2016 No Comments

HSIP Apple Picking with Jane at Weaver Way orchard


The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI) is a major component of the University-Assisted Community Schools (UACS) program of Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships . AUNI has a comprehensive approach to improving nutritional health and fitness that engages, educates and empowers youth, University students, and community members in democratic and mutually beneficial collaborations.

We’re currently hiring for two seasonal positions: a Philadelphia Youth Network Coordinator and a Youth Empowerment Program Coordinator. 

Philadelphia Youth Network Coordinator (Seasonal)

Each summer, AUNI is one of many Philadelphia organizations that partners with The Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) to give city youth access to opportunities designed to help alleviate poverty and inequity through education and employment.

  • Manage, organize, and submit all required PYN application documents on time.
  • Work with Nutrition Educators, students, and parents as necessary to ensure that all documentation is submitted on time.
  • Maintain files of each student applicant, using best practices regarding sensitive information.
  • Submit completed applications to PYN in a timely fashion.
  • Support Nutrition Educators by organizing the efforts of collecting applications.
  • Provide an internal schedule and deadlines to keep Nutrition Educators ahead of schedule.
  • Run workshops and provide supporting materials to ensure that Nutrition Educators are aware of the application requirements and have the tools to be successful.
  •  Hold brief weekly or bi-weekly meetings to keep track of progress and to troubleshoot any issues.

Youth Empowerment Program Coordinator (Seasonal) 

  • Associate’s Degree plus 2 or more years of related experience and/or training; or equivalent combination of education and experience. Demonstrated proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Acrobat X-Pro PDF tools. Ability to export and import databases to and from Excel required. Experience with Google Drive is required.  Excellent organizational skills and ability to multi-task in a fast-paced, deadline-oriented environment; excellent written and oral communication skills and proven ability to work in a collaborative environment.
  • The YEP Program Coordinator will provide administrative support as well as assisting with coordinating and implementing events, correspondence, and general support for our high school youth program.  Other duties include milestone tracking, data entry and tracking for reporting purposes. Planning and implementing service projects, educational activities, and field trips.  Support Penn student engagement, provide direct service as needed.
  • Manage, organize, and compile all tracking data.
  • Develop a programming calendar (including coordinating field trips, college tours, site visits, etc) and internal schedule of reporting deadlines.
  • Maintain student files, using best practices regarding sensitive information.
  • Compile data for quarterly reporting.
  • Hold brief weekly or bi-weekly meetings to keep track of progress and to troubleshoot any issues.


Please submit all cover letters and resumes to

We look forward to hearing from you!

G-Squad Visits Common Market

March 4, 2016 No Comments

by Andre Platts, AUNI Social Media Intern

On Tuesday, February 17th, students from Sayre High School’s G-Squad crew took a cold and rainy drive to visit Common Market, a mission-driven distributor of local foods to the Mid-Atlantic region.  It was a bit of a trek for the West Philadelphia-based students, but worthwhile because it took place during the first winter that G-Squad partnered with Common Market to extend the Good Food Bag Program, a CSA that provides community members with healthy, affordable, and organic fruits and vegetables year-round.

Common Market Outreach Coordinator Margaret Smith gives AUNI's G-Squad crew a tour of the warehouse.

Common Market Outreach Coordinator Margaret Smith gives the G-Squad crew a tour of the warehouse.

As we entered the Common Market building from the intense cold and rain, we were welcomed with warm greetings and a smile from our tour guide and Common Market Outreach Manager Margaret Smith, who quickly led us to the main office space. After getting settled in and enjoying water and fresh apples, we introduced ourselves and met two other Common Market employees, Hannah Joe and Samantha Shain. We quickly learned about their work distributing wholesale organic fruits and vegetables to grocery stores, schools, hospitals and, workplaces, and that the company is projected to sell over $3,000,000 dollars in produce this year.

Then we put on our coats and stepped into the crisp air on the warehouse floor, where Common Market plans to building a new kitchen via a top secret partnership. We moved on to see the “old freezers,” which were as big as shipping containers and were once used to temporarily store food. Next, we quickly donned an underrated fashion accessory, hairnets, and ducked into the bitter cold of their refrigerated storage area. I think “area” might be an understatement, as it was the size of  a small apartment building. Inside, they kept boxes and boxes of fresh produce and things like eggs, yogurt, jelly, and, maple syrup. Then they took us to a magical door to the freezer. It was like going to Narnia, if Narnia was an ice cold tundra.

Sierra, Miki Palchick, Dwane, Mr. Tucker, Margaret Smith, Siani, Kalleah, and Andre Platts strike a pose during G-Squad's warehouse tour of Common Market Philadelphia.

Sierra, Miki Palchick, Dwane, Mr. Tucker, Margaret Smith, Siani, Kalleah, and Andre Platts strike a pose during G-Squad’s warehouse tour of Common Market.

Then they took us to the mushroom basement where we met two growers who told us that they were only three months into Common Market’s CSA and managed to grow almost an entire greenhouse of just mushrooms. We also learned that they forage in nearby forests to find starters for most of the mushrooms they grow. 

After the tour, we went back to the office area to debrief and thank Margaret, Hannah Joe, and Samantha. That’s when we learned that Common Market is trying to open additional locations, including one in Atlanta, Georgia. We thanked them for their hospitality and the tour, and they thanked us in return for our services to them. After grabbing a few apples for the road, we set off for the ride back to West Philly. Overall it was a very exciting and interesting trip.

Netter Center