Describe your implementation:
Our model is also highly replicable and scalable as university students themselves are enabled to start-up chapters at a relatively low cost. Through this, we mobilize university students to be advocates for sustainable diet change in their local communities. As our movement continues to grow on the elementary school and university levels, we hope to hold more influence in policy change with the eventual goal of having sustainable diet education incorporated in America’s health education framework. The lessons in the proposed sustainable diet curriculum will cover a variety of relevant sustainable diet topics with a primary focus placed on the environment and animals in the food system, as outlined below:
- Environment in the food system.
- Communities in the food system.
- Consumers and workers in the food system.
- Animals in the food system.
- The individual and the food system.
Groups of 5 university student volunteers carpool each week to a local elementary school with the respective set of materials necessary for that week’s lesson. Each group visits the same classroom for the entirety of the program in order to foster strong relationships amongst the elementary school students and instructor volunteers. In a given week, there are around ten to fifteen groups traveling to different classrooms. The instructor volunteers lead interactive lessons consisting of games, posters, group work, drawing, skits, physical activities, and weekly challenges.
In the past, we have educated over two thousand students in over one hundred classrooms. We have a large volunteer base of around four hundred instructors, chosen from a pool of over seven hundred applicants. A huge obstacle we have face is that we have a surplus of instructor volunteers with not enough elementary school classrooms to accommodate all. However, as we continue to grow and increase our operational capacity, we have been able to improve our educational outreach by taking on more instructor volunteers
Although education is necessary, it is not sufficient on its own. The local environment and policy play a major role in instilling lasting behavioral change. Youth need affordable access to healthful and sustainable foods in their schools and community. We have recently developed a presentation highlighting the need for sustainable diet education and policy change at the district level and presented to the Santa Barbara Unified and Goleta Union School Boards. Since then, we have been building stronger partnerships with these local school boards and food service directors to improve access to foods that align with our curriculum in school cafeterias.In the past year, we have partnered with the Harvard Planetary Health Alliance and Walker Study Group, two groups that has been instrumental in providing informational and financial resources for the development of the pilot lesson and curriculum. Various experts in the field, including Samuel Myers, Senior Research Scientist at Harvard and Director of the Planetary Health Alliance; Gina McCarthy, former EPA director; and Sara Bleich, Senior Policy Advisor to the USDA and the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative, have provided support for KIN and highlighted the importance of advocating on the local policy level. With this advice, we have been working on submitting a comment to the 2019 CA health education framework on incorporating food sustainability into nutrition education.