Health Education in Hannawa, New York

Educator: Paula M. Youmell

Organization: Hands on Health Holistic Healing, Hannawa, New York

Subjects: Health, Farm to School, Garden Program, Food Service, Nonprofit

Grade: Multiple Levels

Website: www.handsonhealthhh.com

How are you teaching about food, health, and sustainability?
Currently I work as a private consultant after years of working as a school health educator on food issues: farm to school, school gardens, healthy school lunches. I work with individuals, school groups, and nonprofits to increase food education in my local community. I will be doing a presentation with students using the Nourish DVD at the GardenShare’s Food Day Youth Summit, and I am presenting about whole foods at the Sustainable Living Project’s Local Living Festival.

How are you using the Nourish resources?
I used the Nourish DVD and resources in both my junior and senior high school health classes. I always taught whole food nutrition and food sustainability in my health education classes. Due to state budget cuts, my job was eliminated, but I am now doing private consultations teaching whole food nutrition and food sustainability, and how it heals our bodies and the earth. I work with private clients, groups, and nonprofits. Nourish is one of my key tools when working with all groups. The message about food is made clear in a short movie that all people can understand and embrace in their lives.

What activities, projects, or inquiry questions have students engaged in?
School gardens, community gardens, fresh produce for local food pantries. High school students do real food education with elementary students. Kids educate their parents at home and tell me how their families have changes their eating habits by shopping local farm markets, eating organic, shopping at the local food coop.

What effect has Nourish had on your students’ understanding of food system issues?
I live in a very rural area of northern New York. Agriculture is still a large part of the area’s professions. I have had students whose eyes have been opened wide on the issues of sustainable farming both with produce and animal husbandry. I think this kind of education with young people is what is turning the tide around on corporate vs. small farming agricultural practices. Kids get it! They want an earth that is clean and healthy. Over 20 years of teaching sustainable health, so many of my students have gone into some form of environmentally sound profession, including agriculture.

What conversations have resulted from using Nourish? What are some next steps?
Conversations have happened with kids, parents, and school staff, and now private citizens about the impact of our food choices and how we can move into the future making better choices for ourselves, communities, and the planet. I have watched the local food movement grow from a few concerned farmers in the area to a viable local food system in 20 years of education and advocacy work. We have local and organic farms producing fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, dairy, and products. The farmer’s markets and private farm stands have more than doubled. We live in amazing times, and I think the next steps are simple: continue to do the advocacy and educational work around food systems, local economies, and real food for real health.

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