As students at Kansas City Public Schools begin a new year, they'll enjoy a sweet yet healthy addition to their meal offerings starting September 10. Ruby Jean's Juicery partnered with the district and is on course to distribute 10,000 bottles of juice biweekly throughout the academic year. Faxon Elementary, Central Middle, and Lincoln College Preparatory Academy are among the first schools to participate in the program., appropriately titled Fresh Juice.
Fresh Juice is the manifestation of Chris Goode's quest to get fresh-squeezed juice into public schools on the east side of Kansas City where food insecurity is common. As Founder and CEO of Ruby's Jeans, Chris has made it his personal mission to make a difference in the lives of Kansas Citians–and that includes area youth.
"I’m of the mindset that the more true nutrients [and] activity we can get into a kid's body from their formative years into early adulthood, the better their overall disposition will be," he said via an Instagram post.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Chris to chat about Fresh Juice and how parents can continue what the program is starting: empowering kids to develop healthy lifestyles.
Kharissa: Getting juice in the schools is one thing. Making them drink it is another. Why do you believe students will actually participate in Fresh Juice?
Chris: For years I've visited schools and engaged with students and typically they're excited to try the juice. We know kids can be picky eaters, so we'll focus on fruit-forward blends that ease students into drinking fresh juice!
Kharissa: The Fresh Juice logo is dope and really makes a healthy lifestyle feel cool. Was that message intentional?
Chris: Yes, it was! We wanted to create something that made juice appear fun to the students.
Kharissa: We know that the foundation of health and wellness starts at home, but a lot of families in the KCPS district face food insecurity. What advice or tips do you have for the parents of students who benefit from Fresh Juice when it comes to adopting healthier habits into their own lives?
Chris: We'll be providing take-home tips each semester and shopping lists that are derived from the actual stores in the neighborhoods of those families. Additionally, they'll get a substitutions list to help educate them on things they commonly purchase and how to make affordable and subtle changes away from things like refined sugar, butter, fried foods, and high sodium.
Kharissa: What changes do you think we need to see in our healthcare system or education system to further empower students to create healthy lifestyles?
Chris: We need to drive home a consistent message that food is important. It's going from juice to a more deliberate and consistent curriculum that constantly emphasizes the importance of health and includes hands-on learning about healthy foods and habits.