Halal Meals in San Diego Schools: How Youth are Leading the Movement in School Wellness 
According to the most recent census data, Islam is the fastest growing religion in San Diego, CA. In the city’s diverse City Heights neighborhood, local leaders are collaborating to address the health issues that impact them most, including food security for Muslim students through increased cultural competency of school meal programs. A collaboration between the University of California San Diego’s Center for Community Health and their Youth Advisory Council, Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's
Food Justice Momentum Team, and the United Women of East Africa formed with the unified goal of bringing Halal meal options into local schools, that would allow Muslim students to partake in provided meals that meet their dietary guidelines.
CA4Health had the privilege to hear from Faduma Haji, a member of UC San Diego’s Youth Advisory Council and leader in this movement:
Q: What was the process of getting Halal meals introduced to your local schools?
A: We first pin-pointed the problem: that there was an absence of beneficial school food choices in specific communities. Then, there were locations where it needed to be addressed, which were low-income neighborhoods and schools with high immigrant rates. It was also important to work with schools where many of the students had religious restrictions on their diet.
The most important part of the process was creating a solution, and that came in the form of halal chicken. We offered this option because many students’ cultural and religious beliefs made mainstream school lunch much less accessible.*
Q: What was the experience like for the student body and members of the youth council?
A: It was important to us as youth to make this type of change in the school food system. We had gone through the school system and understood the difficulty of eating well at school. The halal food campaign’s significance was that we were changing something that had affected our own experiences in the California educational system.
Q: What were the highlights of your experience in the process?
A: The most memorable point in the halal food campaign journey was speaking to the school board on the proposal for halal food. It was a wonderful opportunity to exercise our voice and formally express our ideas.
Q: What do youth bring to processes like these that is unique? Why is it important for youth to be engaged in changemaking?
A: It is vital for youth to have a say in these change making processes. It is because of this experience and many I've had with the UCSD Youth Advisory Council that I feel responsible, passionate, and excited about creating a better community. This experience has shown me the beautiful world of vocal activism. It's given me aspirations of a world without inequality in health. These instances have shaped me into the idealistic individual I am today.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?  
A: I would like to take a moment to thank and acknowledge all the wonderful partners who made this change possible: Food Justice Momentum Team, United Women of East Africa Support Team, Somali Bantu of San Diego, UC San Diego’s Center for Community Health, San Diego Hunger Coalition, San Diego Unified School District Food and Nutrition Services and San Diego Unified School District School Board. ​
After a successful trial period and sustained discussions with San Diego Unified School District the Halal meal program has been approved for the current 2016-2017 school year. Leaders like Faduma continue to meet with legislators and partners in an effort to expand the program to other local schools. Find out more HERE.
*Halal is Arabic for “permissible” and when applied to foods refers to their preparation in a manner that adheres to Islamic dietary principles


North State Healthy Living Leadership Summit
by Center for Healthy Communities

Tue, November 1, 2016
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM​

The CHC's Healthy Leadership Summit will:
  • Inspire new strategies to support community health 
  • Encourage new partnerships and funding strategies
  • Stimulate ideas that lead to effective action
  • Energize the connection between community and economic health
  • Celebrate community innovation and success

For more information contact Michele Buran at


CA4Health 2016 Walk to School Day Photo Feature Contest

Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 5th and CA4Health would like to feature your community's participation & celebrations in the October issue of the PULSE! 

Send us your photos of Walk to School Day 2016 activities by Friday, October 21st to be featured in our next newsletter!

Submissions open to organizations & individuals throughout California.

To Enter: email your photos to

Deadline: Friday, October 21st, 2016

Keep an eye out next month to see all the wonderful work taking place throughout California!


This fall, whether you are a student or not, you have a stack of homework waiting for you - the California ballot. This November’s ballot will be long and comprehensive with 17 statewide propositions alone (15 from citizen petitions, 2 from the legislature), alongside federal election races, and county/local measures. Most state propositions will impact health equity throughout the state, including:


Prop 52: Voter Approval to Divert Hospital Fee Revenue Dedicated to Medi-Cal: Would extend indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children’s health coverage.
Prop 56: Tobacco Tax Increase: This proposition would increase cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine.
Prop 58: Non-English Languages Allowed in Public Education: Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency. Requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs and authorizes school districts to establish dual-language immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers.
Prop 63: Background Checks for Ammunition Purchases and Large-Capacity Ammunition Magazine Ban: Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large-capacity magazines and establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons.
Other key areas addressed include funding for schools (Prop 51), legalization of marijuana for adults (Prop 64), prescription drug costs (Prop 61), the death penalty - repealing it (Prop 62) and modifying court procedures (Prop 66), requiring the use of condoms in adult films (Prop 60), campaign spending (Prop 59), legislative transparency (Prop 54), and tax breaks (Prop 55).*
This year’s ballot is broad and impactful – be sure to study up so you can ensure your voice is heard!
*CA4Health does not endorse positions for any of the aforementioned propositions.
Don’t forget to register to vote! The deadline is October 24th – You can register online today!
Newly Signed State Legislation: 
Among a great deal of legislation signed into law this session, Governor Brown has signed a package of comprehensive measures to mitigate climate change across California. Legislation will seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40% within the next 15 years, and further reduce emissions of super pollutants (including curbing food waste). You can read a statement from our parent organization The Public Health Institute about the passage of one of these bills, SB 32, earlier this month here.


Let’s Get Healthy California
Innovation Challenge 2.0

Submissions for Innovation Challenge 2.0 begin September 14, 2016. To submit an innovation, or for more information, visit the Let’s Get Healthy California website or email The deadline for submissions is October 12, 2016. Finalists will be selected and announced this fall and will be highlighted at the statewide Innovation Conference 2.0 in early 2017. Selected submissions will also be featured on the Let’s Get Healthy California website.
FIND OUT MORE and SIGN UP FOR UPDATES NOW so we can keep you in the loop.



Build Healthy Places Network Partner Finder Tool

In a time where multi-sector collaborations are needed, looking for new partners to connect can be challenging. The Build Healthy Places Network has pulled together a collection of directories to help you find the community development and health organizations nearest to you. Partner Finder helps you take the first steps to identify potential cross-sector partners in improving the health and well being of your community.​

View Tool HERE.


Healthy Hearts California

Join Healthy Hearts California as they strive to reduce the risk and prevalence of heart disease and stroke among all Californians.  By becoming a Healthy Hearts California member, you will be joining an alliance of individuals and organizations in the united fight against heart disease and stroke in California.  Healthy Hearts California members work and partner with the most informed and dedicated professionals and community members in the field.
CLICK HERE for more information. 

Also, CLICK HERE to learn about the upcoming Health hearts California Symposium.

CA4Health, a Public Health Institute Program, made possible
with funding from The California Endowment