Analyzing the Santa Monica Farmers Market case study myself, and hearing about my classmate’s case studies, led me to focus on education.
Education is a core value of a food hub. Providing the community with knowledge of nutrition, food qualities, and growth methods has been proven to increase the health, quality of life, and ability to postpone health related diseases in consumers.
I noticed the food hubs across America that focused on education could be organized into three main categories: cooking, nutrition, and schools. The educational programs within the food hubs all dealt with one or more of those options. The cooking programs are mostly free and focused around teaching consumers how to effectively cook with fresh produce and incorporate healthy foods into their diet. These cooking classes teach people how to avoid processed, packaged foods in a fun way that makes creating delicious meals exciting. The nutrition programs focus on providing consumers with knowledge that will allow them to be their best, healthiest selves. These classes, seminars, or even pamphlets teach people how to get healthy and how to stay healthy. They nutritious qualities of fresh food are noted and strategies to be healthy in every day life are shown. The last category is schools. Providing food education to the school systems is vital to not only combatting child hood obesity but to improving the lives of children for the rest of their lives and fixes their relationship with food. These school programs range from salad bars to school gardens and teach students healthy practices that they will keep with them and hopefully pass on to their parents.
I believe the school education programs to be the most important because school systems provide the most food in America and educating the countries youth and providing them with healthy alternatives is the only way to create a better, healthier tomorrow. Because of this importance, I chose to focus on a specific school education program, the School Salad Bar Program in Santa Monica.
This program is designed to provide students with fruits and vegetables every day, develop lifelong healthy eating habits, and overall have children leave with healthy minds and bodies. This educational program provides opportunities for students to interact with every stage of the food system. They go on farmer’s market tours, participate in food preparation activities, take gardening lessons, and attend workshops that connect gardening into the curriculum. This program targets the most influential people in our society in a positive way that will help them improve their eating habits and reduce risk of illnesses.
Next, I zoomed in on pre-existing food education activities in Las Vegas and discovered what makes it effective. The program Green Our Planet currently exists in the Las Vegas area and has a mission to teach children about nutrition by helping them understand how food is grown, and teach children responsibility, teamwork, and sustainability while respecting nature. This program works with Garden Farms of Las Vegas to install and provide maintenance to schools that raise enough money to implement a garden. The gardens are proven to increase students interest in healthy food, increase fruit and vegetable consumption, increase self-esteem, develop a sense of ownership, and many more positive effects on nutrition and behavior. This program works towards a healthier tomorrow for everyone involved.
Both of these food education programs work towards improving the health and livelihood of children with hope that it will continue to benefit their lives for years to come. They share a common goal with differing practices and methods. These programs could easily be combined by integrating the focus on improving school lunches with the intellectual growth of class gardens. The programs could work together or be blended to make a new program. Either way, all educational programs positively impact the mind and body of the public in a positive way and are a vital element of a successful food hub.