The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Food Day Launch Food Education Campaign
New Initiative to Urge Food Education and Cooking Classes in Nation's Schools
The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Food Day have joined forces to promote food education and cooking classes in schools across America. The nationwide campaign, Get Food Education in Every School, will raise awareness about the critical importance of food education as a means of reducing obesity and diet-related disease in children.
"This is a chance to start talking about how food education should be an integrated part of the school curriculum," said Jamie Oliver, chef and founder of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit. "Hands-on cooking and essential food skills should be taught to every child at every school in the country. Healthy diets are critical to healthy lives but our children lack the knowledge to make the right food choices or the skills to create healthy, wholesome, and nutritious meals."
Providing children with food education has never been more vitally important than it is today, the organizers say. As a result of diet-related disease:
- Today's children may be the first to die at a younger age than their parents.
- One-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese.
- Fewer than 20 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 18 eat the recommended five or more servings of fruits or vegetables each day.
"The names and logos of junk-food giants like McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Chuck E. Cheese's are firmly imprinted on kids' brains, yet as Jamie has shown, some kids can't identify tomatoes, cauliflower, or eggplants," said Michael F. Jacobson, the founder of Food Day and executive director of the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Food education is too important to be left to soda companies, fast-food chains, and other junk-food advertisers."
Schools have the unique ability to educate children about food and nutrition, yet most neglect to do so. Elementary students receive an average of just 3.4 hours of food and nutrition education each year. Cooking classes are available to some through family and consumer sciences curricula, but less than 25 percent of high school students take these classes, which are often among the first programs to be affected by school budget cuts.
In the campaign's first year, organizers aim to raise awareness about the lack of food education and to build a broad coalition that will build support for food education at the local, state, and federal levels of government. The campaign will use the #FoodEd hashtag to promote the issue on Twitter, and will otherwise use social media to build support for the effort.
JOFF and Food Day hope to replicate success stories such as The Food Trust's school nutrition education program in Philadelphia, which provides more than 50,000 children in 100 schools with nutrition classes and student-run fruit and smoothie markets. And, the groups hope to build support for laws similar to Mississippi's Healthy Students Act, which mandates a minimum amount of nutrition education and physical activity per week.
The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, American College of Lifestyle Medicine, American Medical Students Association, Edible Schoolyard Project, Center for Ecoliteracy, The Food Trust, National Association of Nutrition Professionals, Wellness in the Schools, and Nourish are among the organizations supporting the campaign.
About the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation
The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (JOFF) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to bring food education to schools and youth groups, businesses, and communities through raising awareness and hands-on training. Raising awareness through the media to galvanize policy changes at a local and national level, JOFF aims to arm people with the tools to make better and more-informed food choices. JOFF sets out to instill positive eating habits that will last a lifetime; make good, clear information available and teach practical skills to as many people as possible; encourage individuals to get cooking from scratch; and inspire people to take greater control of their lives.
About Food Day
Food Day is a nationwide celebration and movement toward more healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. Food Day, created by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, is powered by a diverse coalition of food movement leaders, organizations, and people from all walks of life. Food Day takes place annually on October 24 to address issues as varied as health and nutrition, hunger, agricultural policy, animal welfare, and farm worker justice. The ultimate goal of Food Day is to strengthen and unify the food movement in order to improve our nation's food policies.