Announcing Food Is Elementary Training in Kansas City!!

July 8, 2010

Experts agree healthy kids learn better. That’s why next month, Bistro Kids is sponsoring a Food Educator training with Dr. Antonia Demas, creator of the Food is Elementary curriculum. In this informative and inspiring two-day training, participants will learn how to implement the award-winning curriculum, which provides a framework for improving students’ health by teaching them about food, nutrition and cooking through dynamic multi-cultural lessons that fully engage their senses. Here are the details. Seating is limited so don’t wait!

August 11-12, 2010
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily
Crossroads Church, 7917 Main St, KCMO 64114
Registration Fee: $165 (Includes a copy of Food is Elementary by Antonia Demas)
College and Continuing Education credit information available at training
Lunch Provided On Thursday Only

To register, send this form with your payment to the address on the form: Food Educator Training Registration Form

How is Food is Elementary different from other nutrition education programs?

Food is Elementary does more than teach children about healthy eating – it improves their eating behaviors. Students learn basic food preparation and cooking skills in a way that engages their natural curiosity. It empowers them to make good food choices by providing accurate information about the link between food and disease prevention.

Food is Elementary is accessible and inclusive. Recipes use healthy commodity foods such as beans and whole grains, which are inexpensive for families and school nutrition providers. The program is designed to involve families and community partners through classroom teaching, school meals, community dinners, gardens, and collaborative mural projects. Respect, tolerance, compassion and other values are reinforced in each lesson.

Food is Elementary has demonstrated remarkable success in improving the physical and mental health of children. Documented results from research-based studies include:

  • The development of preference for fruits, vegetables and whole foods over processed foods
  • Reduced Body Mass Index and improved general health within weeks of educational intervention
  • A welcomed introduction of plant-based entrees into school lunch programs
  • Parents choosing healthier foods due to the influence of their children
  • Dramatic improvement in the behavior, mind set and academic performance of troubled teens

Food is Elementary is being taught in 2,000 across the country. Here are some real-life stories:

School Food Reform, One No-Bake Tart at a Time, The Atlantic, June 24, 2010

Food For Life Engages Senses in Baltimore Students, Baltimore Volunteerism Examiner, June 2, 2010

Teaching Young Students to Enjoy Nutritious School Meals, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 8, 2010

Food Education in Action, T. Colin Campbell Foundation Interviews on Plant-based Nutrition

Notes from the Field: Food Is Elementary, Center for a Livable Future, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Pubic Health, Johns Hopkins University

The Lunchroom Chronicles: Can an irrepressible new Orleans chef put the food back into Baltimore school lunch? Urbanite Magazine, November 1, 2008


How to Grocery Shop with a Child

June 22, 2010

I’m that mom. You know, the one quizzing her kid at the grocery store, reading labels, translating our complicated food system so a 4 year old can relate. That’s me. (At least it is on the days when we have a little extra time. Otherwise, it’s “No…” and “Because I said so.”)

To the people trying to squeeze past us in the narrow aisles, I’m annoying. (And to be honest, I’m annoying to myself at these moments.) But I have to do this now, while she’ll still listen to me, while I’m still her favorite person (on most days). After all, it’s me against the junk food giants with their billion dollar marketing budgets. They want her to listen to them when they tell her it’s “healthy.” They want to be her favorite people (cartoon characters, I mean). They want her to give them our money and they don’t care what happens to her body or her brain. That’s my job.

The only way I know how to do my job is to lift the curtain on the Wizard and help her learn to think critically about the food she’s eating. Our conversations go something like this:

  • I ask her to pick out fruits and vegetables in all the colors of the rainbow. Not only do we have a beautiful selection of vegetables to cook with when we get home, at the register, when she complains she didn’t get anything “special,” I tell her “Oh but you did. Look, you got the purple cabbage, the cherry tomatoes,” and so on. (It seems like a trick, but she really was excited about those things when we started.)
  • She wants Froot Loops. I read the label to her and ask her to give a thumbs up for food that can be found in a kitchen, a thumbs down for anything else. “That’s weird,” I say, “how come there wasn’t any fruit listed?!?” “Ewwww!” she says, with a double thumbs down. (Now we know why it’s not spelled F-r-u-i-t Loops.)
  • At the natural food store (there is no rest for the weary) she wants the canned pasta Arthur is hawking. “Wow, I didn’t know Arthur could cook,” I say. What follows goes sort of like this:
      Me: Did Arthur help make that?
      Her: No! (What a silly mommy!)
      Me: Does it taste better because he’s on the package?
        Her: No!


          Me: Look at this one without Arthur. Same food, but it costs less. Do we want to pay more for Arthur on the package?
            Her: No!


              Me: (Silent WooHoo!)

          I don’t know if this is best, but it’s the best I can do right now. Hopefully these teachable moments will lead to a healthy awareness of our food system and a lifetime of healthy choices.

          For more information on food marketing, check out these resources from The Center for Science in the Public Interest: