“We Can See Change Happen”

Meet Philadelphia Councilwoman Helen Gym

The Food Trust's 25th anniversary spotlight, picture of councilwoman helen gym of philadelphia

25 years, 25 stories

As an at-large member of the Philadelphia City Council, Helen Gym knows she can make her voice heard on the important issues facing the city. But it’s not all about talk, she says. “We have to listen to our young people.”

A longtime parent activist in the School District of Philadelphia, Councilwoman Gym first joined forces with The Food Trust to ban the sale of soda in Philly schools in the early 2000s. “Over the years, I've admired The Food Trust's incredible efforts to increase food access and to make the issue of equity in food access a compelling one for the city--not through just data and studies but through organizing, through storytelling, and through the uplifting of the people that they serve.”

Today, the Councilwoman continues to be a part of that work, partnering with the students involved in The Food Trust’s Get HYPE Philly! youth leadership program to improve the city’s schools.

“The people who should be championing the issue [of healthy food] are not politicians themselves, but the people who are most impacted,” Councilwoman Gym says. She helped to organize public forums where student leaders could discuss a pivotal issue: access to cold, clear water throughout the school day. The following September, hydration stations were installed in schools across the District. “The young people won,” the Councilwoman explained, "and that showed that when we put young people’s voices front and center, we realign our thinking and our priorities and that we can see change happen.” She is currently working with The Food Trust to increase school breakfast participation.

Learn more about The Food Trust's Get HYPE Philly! program

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This interview is part of our weekly "25 Years, 25 Stories" series, spotlighting some of The Food Trust's diverse voices in healthy food access. If you would like to support our work, click here to make a tax-deductible donation today.

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