Here’s How to Change Food Behavior

The Lempert Report
March 22, 2021

The California-based nonprofit Food Literacy Center has announced it is building a zero net energy cooking school.

The new school will open in fall 2021.

If you are not aware of the great work that the organization has accomplished over it’s ten year history – listen up. The Food Literacy Center serves elementary students at 16 low-income schools in South Sacramento. A population that includes many children who are at high risk for diet-related disease. To put things in perspective – West Sacramento has 15.2% of its population below the poverty line and has a per capita income of $32,290 – while South Sacramento which is just a couple miles away has it’s population at 28.6% below the poverty line and per capita income is just $12,702. 

Amber Stott, the group’s CEO told Food Tank that  “Our students come from food insecure homes, they live in food deserts, and their neighborhoods lack resources like parks and sidewalks. They also have parents who work multiple jobs or shifts that don’t accommodate traditional family mealtimes.” It gets worse. Nearly 40 percent of children in Sacramento County are obese, according to the University of California Los Angeles. Ninety to 100 percent of Food Literacy Center students rely on free and reduced lunch programs. Ninety-two percent are Black, Hispanic, and Asian American.

The organization also helps its students understand food prices. Teachers discuss the cost of homemade recipes versus fast food restaurants, and which local farmers markets offer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) matching—or programs that match purchases dollar-for-dollar for food aid recipients. The Food Literacy Center classes incorporate cooking into STEM curricula—which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These students are consistently tasting a wide array of fruits and vegetables and are taught how to cook new, culturally appropriate recipes in every class as well as spending time in the Food Literary Center’s outdoor gardens, where they harvest produce and study plants. “We know that if we make nutrition education hands-on and make it fun, we can engage students and get them excited about eating their veggies,” Stott told Food Tank. “We don’t put any pressure on kids to eat or not eat the food. Our instructors show up with joy… We explore. We play. We high five over bites of broccoli.”

This is how we can change the health of America.