“Nourish” Campaign Targets the Next Generation of Foodies

Adriana Velez | Change.org | November 19, 2010

Change.orgA new campaign is working to boost teens’ food literacy through PBS programming, school curriculum, Web content, teacher seminars, and youth summits. The multi-year education initiative, Nourish, is designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability, and it ranks as one of the most large-scale youth nutrition programs ever undertaken.

Nourish made its debut via a PBS special featuring Michael Pollan, Anna Lappée, Bryant Terry, and–oh yes–Cameron Diaz. The special runs through November, but it’s just the start of an ambitious campaign to get teens thinking about the story of their food.

Just this week, Nourish released its downloadable middle school curriculum, created in partnership with WorldLink and the Center for Ecoliteracy. The curriculum, which includes a companion DVD, is aligned with national standards in social studies, science, health, and English. Beyond that academic enrichment, the curriculum will help students connect the dots with other food literacy programs such as school lunch and school gardens. Students can explore activity themes including The Story of Food; Seasonal, Local Food; Food Traditions; Food and Ecosystems; and Analyzing Food Ads. Nourish is also working on curriculum that can be used in high schools across the country.

“Middle school is an ideal time to engage students in the story of food,” says Zenobia Barlow, executive director and co-founder of the Center for Ecoliteracy. “Students are increasingly making their own decisions about the food they eat and becoming aware of the influence of marketing on their choices.”

Becoming aware of the influence of marketing? That’s putting it mildly. Each generation of teens seems to be more media savvy then the next. But as savvy–and cynical–as teens are now about marketing, they also need something to say “yes” to. It’s also important that they feel a sense of ownership over their food options, especially since there’s so much outside their control. For example, as I write this post, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill hangs in the balance. Will it pass this week, next week, or will it be extended a third time? And even if it passes, how much will students feel the changes in the next few, short years that they’re still in school?

The Nourish initiative is a tool educators and students can use to put the power of change in the hands of teens right now, regardless of this pending legislation. With the curriculum and a youth summit planned for early 2011, Nourish organizers have the opportunity to activate a fresh, young crop of informed and passionate eaters.

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