“This training far exceeded my expectations. I was hoping to get tips on how to stay organized and less stressed during a class but I got so much more. I got a support group of wonderful teachers, bonding with my family, and understanding of how to let the students guide my lesson while trying to stay organized and confidence from doing three weekly lessons that I can take with me to teach. I also gained ideas from other teacher styles and how they organize lessons. I got rich wisdom from two amazing teachers. I loved the articles we had to read, podcasts, videos, the visuals you displayed and the entire curriculum as a step-by-step guide for each class.” – Amy J, Pennsylvania
Overview of Training
At this training, you will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively implement the full Food is Elementary curriculum, which is ideal for professional educators teaching nutrition, health, culinary arts, and family & consumer sciences. The curriculum has differentiated activities for students in Pre-K through grade 8, and can be successfully adapted to older students because the lessons are based on key concepts. The multicultural cooking lessons have also been successfully used to enhance social studies curricula and have also been a great addition to cooking clubs at after school programs and summer camps. We have trained thousands of educators working in public and private schools and educational settings in over 35 US states and abroad.
The month-long training course is a combination of live zoom classes and self-paced content released online. You will engage with reading materials, videos, discussions, and journal activities. During the training you will experience key aspects of the curriculum and opportunities to practice key teaching methods. Assignments are designed to be practical as you will immediately apply your learning by teaching, reflecting, and discussing the experience.
The next online training is schedule for January 2024.
In person Training
Stay tuned for in person training dates and locations in the Ithaca, NY area in summer 2024. In person training can also be scheduled upon request, depending on availability.
“Thank you so much for this amazing experience really digging in deeper to the importance of nutrition and bridging into cooking so that our future generations can have a better understanding of how much of an impact food has on their life.” – Lauren V, High School Health Teacher, Pennsylvania
“I feel that my perspective has changed in that it has been broadened. Discussing cultural awareness, effective teaching techniques, hands-on-activities, food policy, botany, biology, etc. allows me to fill my bag of teacher tricks with more information to bring to my students.”
– Benyka M, Elementary Teacher, Georgia
Food is Elementary Curriculum ©
Food is Elementary is an interdisciplinary nutrition education curriculum for students in preschool through grade 12. Food is Elementary has been successfully taught in thousands of schools and organizations in the US and abroad to people of all ages and backgrounds. Food is Elementary is ideal for health teachers, family & consumer sciences teachers, culinary arts teachers, and core academic teachers looking to enhance the academic curriculum.
Food is Elementary has 41 lessons split into three units of study:
- Unit 1 Nutrition & Health
- Unit 2 Fantastic, Fresh Whole Foods
- Unit 3 Cooking Legumes from Around the World
Food is Elementary is based on the quote “food is good to think”, coined by anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss. Food is a sensory vehicle that lends itself naturally to bringing academic concepts to life. For example, a lesson on Japanese sushi involves learning about geography and climate, agrarian history, indigenous foods and traditional recipes, folklore and literature, music, dance, and other artistic traditions. Mathematical concepts are reinforced through measuring and understanding fractions by visualizing the relationship of the parts as they relate to the whole. Older students can measure their sushi roll and calculate the circumference.
The key concept of this curriculum, experiential learning through engaging all the senses, requires that students cook cooperatively with their peers. Educational literature has established that children first learn about the world through their senses. Through cooking, all the senses are utilized creatively thus taking advantage of a natural receptivity in children. Studies have demonstrated that 75% of all children learn best through sensory-based education. Food is Elementary deliberately focuses on creative ways to engage multiple learning styles.
Food is Elementary provides a means for students to accept healthier foods through experiential learning. It is important that students learn about healthy eating patterns at an early age so that they can protect their health through diet as they grow older. Poor eating habits established in young children lead to increased incidence of chronic diseases such as heart disease, many of the cancers, and diabetes. Inadequate nutrition can also prevent students from learning effectively.
The curriculum is a research-based program modeled after the award-winning Trumansburg, New York study “Food Education in the Elementary Classroom.” This study, the Cornell University doctoral thesis of Dr. Antonia Demas published in 1995, proved that a food-based curriculum results in dramatic dietary acceptance of diverse healthful foods among children in the elementary school lunch program. Additionally, the study shows that a hands-on, experiential food-based curriculum provides academic enrichment for all students and positively impacts family eating patterns. This has been called the “trickle up” effect with children being catalysts for healthy dietary changes at home.
Goals of Food is Elementary
- Educate children about the relationship between food choices and health/disease prevention
- Provide children with the life skill of food preparation through hands-on interactive experience
- Introduce healthful foods through the traditions and arts of different cultures
- Incorporate literature, geography, history, science, art, music and math into food-based lessons
- Encourage a child’s natural curiosity and creativity to be the foundation of learning
- Involve families and community in classroom teaching, school meals, gardens, and collaborative mural projects
- Can be adapted to different age groups in elementary, middle, and high school
- Teach students about the role their food choices have on climate change and the impact on the environment
- Provide students with an opportunity to experience the wonders of the natural world and why it is necessary to respect it
- Model behaviors that can be promoted in the home such as composting and recycling
- Provide an outlet of artistic expression by creative design of food presentation
“Exciting our children about learning, encouraging youth to understand their world – and to change it for the better – this is what Antonia Demas, Ph.D. does so well. Her innovative program, “Food is Elementary”, uses creative examples to teach practical, empowering lessons – about food, about people, about life. I recommend Dr. Demas’ work most highly.”
Michael Klaper, M.D. 1999, Institute of Nutrition Education and Research, Makawao, Hawaii