Globe 100

Innovators | Education

A health champion and his school without junk food

Mbakwe Okafor, Codman Academy

A STUDENT at Codman Academy, a charter public high school in Dorchester, once wrote a paper about buying some fresh fruit for lunch. She’d have to take a bus for miles, past fast food restaurants and liquor stores, to get to a produce market.

It was a call to action for Mbakwe Okafor, Codman’s wellness director. His mission: to pull students with few options for healthy eating off the road to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases.

Advertisement

But that was a challenge at Codman, which has no athletic facilities, and no kitchen or cafeteria.

Okafor, 33, began with a whole-school approach to wellness. Every student was weighed and measured, with follow-up resources offered to parents. “I want to help kids reach their potential, whether through exercise or eating right. It’s both a personal and professional mission,’’ he said.

By 2009, Codman had eliminated junk food from its free lunch plan. This year, the entire school was designated a junk food-free zone: Candy, cookies, and soda are banned.

And to graduate, every Codman student must pass a nutrition competency exam.

Okafor grew up in the South Bronx, and knows the temptations of fast food. But as a basketball player and coach, he learned standards of fitness and proper diet. Today, he’s a role model.

Advertisement

“I work out several times a week, live the kind of lifestyle that we’re asking the kids here to follow,’’ he said. “I can’t remember the last time I drank soda.’’

Loading comments...
You're reading  1 of 5 free articles.
Get UNLIMITED access for only 99¢ per week Subscribe Now >
You're reading1 of 5 free articles.Keep scrolling to see more articles recomended for you Subscribe now
We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.