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By Catherine Kastleman, Food Day national Project Coordinator
Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement towards a healthier, more sustainable, and more affordable food system. The effort was launched by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) in 2011, and is powered by a diverse grassroots coalition of health professionals, food producers, educators, and citizens from all walks of life. The campaign culminates in a day of action on or around October 24 every year to highlight organizers’ year-round efforts to improve our food system.
With childhood obesity still at unacceptable levels, Food Day offers a chance to bring nutrition education into classrooms, school cafeteria, school gardens, and homes. On Food Day 2012, there were more than 3,000 awareness-raising and educational events in schools, hospitals, farmers markets, city halls, and elsewhere.
Thousands of schools around the country celebrated October 24 in the cafeteria and in the classroom, offering lessons from the Food Day School Curriculum prepared by professors from Columbia University Teachers College, and serving up local and healthy meals, as Denver, Portland, Minneapolis, and Boston did. In Nashville, a local chef started an initiative around Food Day to get “100 chefs in 100 schools” to demonstrate healthy cooking skills. The Los Angeles Unified School District partnered with the Los Angeles Food Policy Council to put forward a Good Food Procurement Resolution on Food Day pledging to prioritize nutrition, affordability, geography, and sustainability in procuring school foods for its 700,000 students.
Below you can find a sampling of Food Day’s educational resources, including the Food Day School Curriculum and Film Screening Guide. We hope you can use some or all of these resources to help your students and children explore where food comes from, how to navigate an increasingly unhealthy food environment, and how we can all work together to create a better food system.
- SELECTED EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES FROM FOOD DAY: Professors at Columbia Teachers’ College in New York developed the Food Day School Curriculum and accompanying classroom materials. This five-day lesson plan is derived from Michael Pollan’s mantra: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Designed to be adapted from the kindergarten level all the way up to high school, this flexible and beautifully designed curriculum has been promoted by the National Education Association’s 2012 in NEA Today magazine and touted for its success by hundreds of educators across the country.
- The Food Day in schools section of FoodDay.org offers a Guide for School Organizers as well as resources that help to clarify the new school meal nutrition standards that were released in the fall of 2012.
- Food Day’s Dinner Party Kit is a great resource for families looking to introduce healthier habits at home.
- Our Film Screening Guide offers a wide range of short and full-length videos that explore food system topics, many of which are appropriate for all ages. Stay tuned to FoodDay.org for more resources that can help you celebrate Food Day with your students on October 24 and improve our food system year-round. It’s time to Eat Real!