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Nourish goes high-tech in San Diego

hth-picInspired by an intersession program featuring Nourish curriculum and a field trip to a local organic farm, middle school students in San Diego developed a richer understanding of the food system and adopted new practices.

At High Tech Middle Media Arts School in San Diego, a group of 19 students from grades 6-8 elected to participate in an intensive, two-week program learning about food and sustainability.

Using the Nourish teaching resources, the program combined classroom learning and activities, field trips and guest speakers. The goal was to inspire students to make informed food choices and encourage active participation in reconsidering the way we think about food. Nourish staff assisted in developing the program, coached the instructor, and helped lead a 2-day session with the students focused on the story of food.

The program introduced students to the core concepts of food literacy. Students learned about where their food comes from, how to understand the food pyramid and read nutrition labels, what the “mystery” ingredients in their food really are, why it often makes sense to eat local and seasonal produce, what organic food is, as well as a variety of other issues surrounding healthy eating.

High Tech Middle teacher Cara Littlefield described the Nourish curriculum as “an invaluable resource in planning the lessons. Not only did the Curriculum Guide serve as a tool in planning the class, the staff at Nourish were a great help as well.” In addition to coaching, materials, and resources, Nourish helped coordinate a student field trip to a local, organic farm.

For two days of the course, Nourish staff also worked directly with the students to help provide a deeper context for the story of food. On day one the class viewed the Nourish film, then participated in a class discussion of some of the topics raised in the film. Terms such as monoculture, commodity crops, industrial food system, and food culture were defined. The class then engaged in Nourish Curriculum Activity #1: Story of Food to explore the story behind particular foods and the interrelated elements of the food system.

For some edible learning, the group enjoyed a tasting of seasonal fruits and vegetables from a farmer’s market and a local backyard garden.

On day two, the class viewed an assortment of Nourish Short Films relevant to seasonal, local eating. After the screening, students carried out Nourish Curriculum Activity #2: Seasonal, Local Food. Each student created a seasonal food wheel and local foodshed map.

By the end of the two weeks, the students remarked how their outlook on food and eating had changed as a result of the class. One student brought his mother to a farmers market. One vowed to never eat meat from factory farms. Another convinced his mother to buy bread with unbleached whole-wheat flour instead of white bread.

The culminating activity for the students was to create a website to demonstrate their learning. They worked independently or in small groups to develop parts of the website, which invites viewers to join them in their “quest to be as educated as possible about the food we eat every day.”

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