Growing Healthy Food Relatonships
FoodCorps has a rich history in New Brunswick Public Schools with service members serving in a number of sites over the years. After a brief hiatus at the onset of the pandemic, a service member has at last returned to the classrooms of elementary school students in our community to deliver food and nutrition education.
The core of our school-based works is developing “healthy food relationships.” Serving students nutritious foods is essential, but serving that food isn’t enough. Students need to also understand why nutritious foods are important to eat, they need to enjoy eating them and actively choose to do so, and they should have a deeper understanding and connection to the land, people, and systems that bring that food from the farm to their plate. With all of these components combined, students will be more inclined towards what we call “healthy food relationships,” positive associations with nutritious foods, their bodies, how food interacts with their body, and how their interaction with food ripples effects throughout their community.
As our FoodCorps lessons begin this school year, they are getting down to the basics. The “Eat the Rainbow” lesson teaches students about phytonutrients and the importance (and joy) of eating fruits and vegetables of all different colors. “Go, Grow, and Glow; & Wonders of Water” teaches about macronutrients and the essentiality of hydration. And “Our Food Traditions” demonstrates the cultural significance of foods and how wonderful it can be to share in your friends’ and neighbors’ food cultures with them.
These lessons have gone wonderfully so far as part of 5th-grade health and PE classes. And their potential effects are wider than just the lessons the students learn. Teachers and administrators are starting to learn about the power of food and nutrition education too. When students get excited about nutritious foods and healthy food relationships, the adults around them do too. And so plans are in motion to take the lessons of the classroom and apply them to students’ tangible engagement with food. Culturally appropriate recipes are being discussed for inclusion on the lunch menu and opportunities to grow foods at the school are in the opening stages of discussion.
At Elijah’s Promise, we believe that school food and nutrition programs have the potential to impact the food security, health, and economic well-being of whole communities, and we very much look forward to continuing to lay the groundwork for healthy food relationships for everyone in New Brunswick alongside FoodCorps.
About the Grantee
The Elijah’s Promise Community Kitchen was started in August of 1989 and since its inception, the soup kitchen has grown from an organization of three paid staff and 100 volunteers serving 35,000 meals a year to a multi-service organization of 26 paid staff and over 3,000 volunteers serving over 170,000 meals annually between all of our meal service programs.