Grantee Blog 2020

Healthy Food Relationships in New Brunswick Schools

Healthy Food Relationships in New Brunswick Schools

Food is nutritious—people are healthy. Food contains a density and diversity, or lack thereof, of nutrients essential to good health. People are healthy when they, among other things, consume nutritionally dense and diverse foods with frequency and minimize foods that are less so. Foods themselves are not healthy or unhealthy. But our relationships to those foods, and to food as a whole, can be.

We are adamant at Elijah’s Promise about reframing the way we talk about and learn about food and nutrition, especially in schools. To simply separate foods into two categories—healthy and unhealthy—not only obfuscates more nuanced details about the realities of our food, but it sets us up for failure by neglecting the full scope of what our relationship to food entails. We don’t eat food in a vacuum. Declaring that “carrots are good and healthy and cookies are bad and unhealthy” reinforces an unhelpful binary and ignores, among many things, a key truth about cookies: people like to eat them.

We define Healthy Food Relationships as: “A dynamic between people and the food they eat where nutritional density and diversity is as valued as the social, psychological, and cultural aspects of food cultivation, preparation, and consumption; respect and care is given to the people, land, and built places that grow, sell, buy, transport, prepare, and consume the food; and an understanding is nurtured that the physical and mental health benefits of eating healthful foods are both unique to each individual and communal.”

Essentially, we must account for our relationship to the food we eat, our relationship to food as a whole, and our relationship to the system that provides our food. We accomplish this in our FoodCorps programs by ensuring that at least one of the following learning objectives are implemented in each lesson and that the results of those lessons are tracked over time.

A recent example of how these learning objectives were incorporated into FoodCorps lessons occurred last week during a lesson about plant parts. The instructor read the book Tops and Bottoms where a family of rabbits tricks a bear into using his land to grow food for their family. The instructor used this book not only to teach about the parts of the plant, but to also get the kids thinking about how fair it was that the rabbits did all the work while the bear expected to get food just because it was the land he owned without putting in any work.

The lesson, therefore, addressed points 3 and 7 by learning about new foods and learning about the fairness with which we ought to treat the people who grow our food. The instructor noted students’ reactions to the discussion questions and collected their completed activities related to the subject in order to note their relationship with the subject at current and track changes to their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors over time.

About the Grantee

Elijah’s Promise

Elijah’s Promise harnesses the power of food to break the cycle of poverty, alleviate hunger, and change lives.