Teaching Food and Nutrition for all

Teachers College Columbia University

How long?

  • 21 days
  • online

What are the topics?

Teachers College Columbia University

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Who should attend

This course is open to anyone who is or wants to teach school students about food and nutrition, whether through formal curriculum or more informally, because of a passion to help our next generation eat well for their bodies and for the planet. The course is open to:

  • K–12 educators (resources and curricula will be shared that are appropriate for elementary, middle, and high school students)
  • Pre-service teachers in undergraduate or graduate programs
  • Anyone working or volunteering with an organization that conduct gardening, cooking or any food and nutrition education in schools, whether during the school day, in after school programs, or at community-based organizations are welcome. This course is open to people who work for government funded programs such as Extension and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Education, as well as for people with non-profit organizations and for-profit organizations.

If you have educated school students about food and nutrition before, or this is a new area for you, everyone will learn evidence-based strategies and best practices (that include gardening and cooking) to inspire students to want to eat well, build practical knowledge and skills that increase confidence and commitment to make healthy food choices, and learn to navigate through our current challenging food environment and advocate for positive change in their community.

About the course

What your students eat impacts their concentration and health, as well as social justice and the natural environment. Yet teaching about food and nutrition can seem complicated. This course gives you the tools and confidence to bring this topic to life in your classroom.

What is Teaching Food & Nutrition for All? This course begins by exploring our personal relationships with food, healthy eating, and our memories — good and bad — of school lunch. Then, we investigate the challenges of our current food supply and why education about food and nutrition is essential for today’s students, who will become tomorrow’s adults facing crucial decisions about how we produce and consume food in our changing world. We review enough “nutrition 101” to help you feel comfortable teaching nutrition.

Throughout this course, we demonstrate activities, share resources, and provide curricula for education about food, which can take many forms: school gardens, cooking, science, health, literacy, art, fieldtrips, cafeteria tastings, and more. This course ends with step-by-step guidance for creating your own food and nutrition education plan that will be ready to go for the new school year.

Over the three weeks of this course, we will cover five topics through engaging mini-lectures, online activities, readings, assignments, and discussion groups.

Topic 1: Food for Thought: Reflecting Back and Thinking Ahead

Our personal histories and experiences matter in everything we teach and this is especially true for food. This course will begin with participants reflecting on their own eating history. They will also explore what they learned about food and nutrition as students, as well as their experiences with school meals. Did these experiences influence how they eat today? If yes, why and how did this education "connect" to their lives? If no, why and how did this education fall short? What kind of experiences with learning about food could have made a difference?

Topic 2: Why Food and Nutrition Education for All Matters

Participants will recognize why food and nutrition education is essential for today's children who will be tomorrow's adults. This generation is inheriting a world with many challenges in which food is at the root. Type 2 diabetes and other preventable lifestyle-related diseases are on a steady rise. This is decreasing quality of life and increasing health care costs. Many of our communities, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, lack access to healthy food, yet are "food swamps" filled with unhealthy food. How our food is grown and processed is affecting climate change and damaging our environment. There are ways to produce enough nourishing food for all while also mitigating climate change. Yet, why do we lack strong public policies to support these transitions? Students need to understand our food system to be able to take part in these important societal debates.

Topic 3: Biting into Food and Nutrition Education

Participants "try out" many food and nutrition education activities for students from K-12th grade. These activities include gardening, cooking, analyzing our current food supply, understanding injustices related to food and how to move toward food justices, learning about the nutritional content of various foods, and much more. They also learn evidenced-based strategies for how to make food and nutrition education enhance students' intrinsic motivation to so they are excited and empowered to eat well; provide practical knowledge and skills to build their confidence they can eat well; and learn how to navigate our current challenging food environment and how to advocate for positive changes toward more sustainable, equitable, and healthy food futures for all.

Topic 4: School Meals: Opportunities and Challenges

Participants learn about our National School meal program and the opportunities and challenges of nourishing students through school meals. They learn how this program has involved since its inception in 1946. Participants discuss why school lunch is not a more connected, integral part of the school day. And, then participants learn about exciting initiatives, happening around the United States and around the world, that are transforming school food to provide scratch-cooked, health-promoting school meals and how this is connected to what students learn about food and nutrition in the curriculum.

Topic 5: Making Food and Nutrition Education Happen in Your Classroom, Your School, Your Community

Finally, participants create their own concrete food and nutrition education plan (lessons, ideas, resources to use, partners to work with) that will be ready to use when school starts.

Experts

Pam Koch

Pam Koch works at the intersection of sustainable food systems and nutrition education. She has written, evaluated, and conducted professional development for several curricula including: the Linking Food and the Environment (LiFE) curriculum series: Growing Food; Farm to Table & Beyond, and ...

Teaching Food and Nutrition for all at Teachers College Columbia University

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