Welcome to our Food Mythbusters for Kids Blog… our 2017 Community Project!

At Gordon Neighborhood House (Left to Right: Marina, Colleen, Maxine, Jamie, Megan, Zoe)

“Children are regarded as a flower that needs nourishment, love and care. Think of our children as a garden, they need a place to show their beauty and pride.” — Cowichan Coast Salish (retrieved from http://gordonhouse.org)

Welcome to our blog, Food Mythbusters for Kids! We are a group of 6 ladies, Colleen, Megan, Maxine, Zoe, Jamiee, and Marina, who are all undergraduate students a part of in the faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia. This term, we will we working with Gordon Neighborhood House to plan and implement food related workshops for the children involved in their after school program.The main objective we hope to achieve with these workshops is to promote food literacy with the kids that we are working with. We are defining food literacy as the understanding the impact of food choices on health, the environment, and the  economy (Food Literacy Center, 2015). We are looking forward to using our insights from FNH 350 to analyze and study the effects of our workshops with these kids and in the community around the Gordon Community House. We would like to start by briefly introducing ourselves, our interests, as well as our relevant experiences with children and/or food and nutrition.

In charge of communications, we have Colleen Cassidy is a 4th year Food, Nutrition and Health student who has 10 years experience teaching dance to children ages 2-17. Colleen also has as well experience working at ‘Arts and Science’ camps. She is very passionate about food, and working with children.

Also in charge of communications, is Megan Barnett is a 3rd year Food, Nutrition and Health student. Megan started working with kids ages 6-15 years old as a counselor, an arts and crafts instructor, a rock climbing instructor, a lifeguard, and a kitchen assistant about seven years ago, at Camp Potlatch. During her time there, she worked with kids anywhere from 6-15 years old. At Camp Potlatch, Megan worked as a counselor, an arts and crafts instructor, a rock climbing instructor, a lifeguard, and a kitchen assistant. She is currently working at the UBC Aquatic Centre as a Lifeguard/Swim Instructor as well as a Day Camp Supervisor. She was interested in working on “Mythbusters for Kids” because she liked that it engaged children with food, and this was something she found very important.We decided to put two group members in charge of these blog posts, and these members are Maxine Somov and Zoe Schmidt.

Maxine and Zoe are both 3rd year Food, Nutrition and Health students, both interested in applying to the Dietetics program. Maxine has limited experience with children, but did work as a private tutor for a young lady with down syndrome throughout her high-school years. Maxine has extensive experience working in the nutrition field, and is currently sponsored by the natural supplement company “Total Body Health Co”. Maxine is a Bikini/Fitness competitor, who works with nutrition coaches to build diet plans and workout plans that will help her achieve her fitness goals. She won the overall award at her last competition and will be competing at the Provincial Championships for the second year in a row this July. She was interested in this community project because she is very passionate about food, and believes it is important to expose children to food science and nutrition at a young age.

Zoe is a certified lifeguard and swim instructor for kids of all ages, a gymnastics and summer camp coach for kids 6mo-7yrs, and is currently leading workshops for elementary school children through the program “Nutrikids”. Zoe has always found working with children to be fun and rewarding and is excited for what she will learn from this project.

Jamie Chun, who is also a 3rd year Food, Nutrition and Health student. Aside from currently working as a personal tutor for kids of all ages, she has many years of experience working with children at the Richmond Olympic Oval as a lead for rock climbing, skating, and other sporting events. She feels working on this community project will give her the opportunity to implement her direct studies in nutrition to positively influence for the kids. She also feels the experience will be very rewarding.

Finally, we have Marina Balic. Marina  who is a 3rd year student enrolled in the Dietetics program. Marina has previously been involved in “Nutrikids” and “Food for Thought”, as well as “Geering Up Science” and Engineering camps for kids, where she is able to work with a partner to plan, lead, and execute science/engineering related workshops with children all over the lower mainland, and including surrounding first nations communities. She chose this project because it is centered around improving children’s understanding and relationship with food – two topics she is very passionate about.

Although all of us have varying strengths and background, our team strives towards the common objective of promoting food literacy in the kids that we will be working with. We are working with a large number of children, of all ages and we have to all be on the same page, especially when leading the workshops. Outside of the workshops, this project requires a lot of work and insight from everyone on our team.  Our tasks will be delegated equally among the group members, with  Megan in charge of communications, Maxine and Zoe in charge of posting blogs, and all other members contributing equally to written assignments, editing, and providing constructive input. We all understand that this project will be almost impossible if we don’t all work together, communicate and carry our own weight. Although we will be delegating sections out to specific member to head, we will need input, insight and thought from everyone and that’s where the team work is required.

When Isabel, one of the coordinators at Gordon Community House, asked us why we chose the project, we all had very similar answers. We all wanted to pick a project where we were interacting with food, as well as with members of the community – face to face. Although other projects seemed interesting and valuable to communities and cities, this was one of the projects where we would actually be interacting with others. It was also a plus for our group that these members of the community happened to be kids. We all love working with children, and as you can see we all have quite an extensive amount of experience working with them. Through our past experiences, we found working with kids not only to be a comfortable choice, but one that we would find rewarding. Also, all of our  As a group, we can all relate to each other through our members are passionate for food and nutrition, and wanted to choose a project that reflected that. We all have healthy eating habits, and believe strongly in the importance of modeling and instilling these habits in children. We want to be advocates for healthy eating and community and believe the most effective way of doing this is to start with children!

During the first meeting with the coordinator at the Gordon Neighbourhood House we were familiarized with the details of our project. Such as, that the children are coming from Lord Roberts Elementary and Annex, a nearby school. The kids range in ages, starting at 5 to 10 years old – this is going to be challenging, as a team we are going to have to split up and engage all the kids according to their age. We are expected to lead a workshop where the kids can learn something new and be able to participate either in doing an experiment, making new recipes or learning new cooking technique. Isabel explained that our project was going to be different from other projects. She helped us became more familiar with not only the uncertainties of workshop planning, but those that come along with keeping children engaged. She emphasized that working with these kids, even if we prepare extensively, might not go as planned. We’re hoping to have plenty of backup activity options and to be flexible in order to best accommodate the learning needs of the children.

As a group we want to gain insight into a neighbourhood house. None of us have been to a neighbourhood house before and we’re excited to see the impacts that this home facility has on individuals and the community. We want to leave understanding the food security of this neighborhood house and of those that use the services at the facilityattend the home. We want to understand what the neighborhood house does to educate its members on healthy food choices especially the children. Overall we want to leave with a better understanding of the impact that this house has on its members in terms of food security and health. We are excited to work with these children who we learned today are almost all from single parent homes. We also want to see how these kids react and learn from the food science experiments we are going to be doing with them.

In accordance with Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk (2012); we want to be there as an aid to the neighborhood house. This can only be achieved by taking a step back and listening to their needs before trying to implement our own ideas. We met with members of Gordon neighborhood House’s Food Team, on Monday January 23, and did exactly that. We listened and asked as many questions as we could during the meeting. Our first impression of the neighborhood house was very welcoming, and we felt that our efforts and enthusiasm were truly appreciated. They need a group that is excited and passionate about food and kids to come in and have fun. To teach them, and to demonstrate cool food science experiments to the kids. We were advised not to waste any food, keep the kids busy, and to bring forth activities the kids haven’t done before in order to maximize what they get from the program we will soon put on! And we plan to do just that.

The Gordon Neighbourhood House also supports the strategy for asset-based community development. The neighbourhood house identifies and utilizes assets in the community like its space, gardens and donations to support and give back to the community that it is located in. It uses a needs-based approach to community development (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003) where the communities needs are met by using the assets from the individuals in the community. The Gordon Neighbourhood House also uses program-based solutions to support individuals in the community that live in; lower income housing, are single parents, or are lonely younger individuals that live in high density housing. The Gordon House provides after school care for children  and events where young people can come together and build communityconnect and all of it activities at low or no cost for those of lower income. All these qualities support those of asset-based community development.

Our objective for this project is to to promote food literacy in children by engaging them in food science, introducing new foods and new techniques as well as providing them with take home recipes that they can try on their own. We are also hoping to study and observe how these food literacy skills could be used in their own homes to promote food security in the neighborhood, As a team we are hoping to use our passion for children and our desire to be a contribution to the Gordon Neighbourhood House. We hope you enjoy this reading this blog as you follow us through this new experience.

References:

Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5), 474–486.

Food Literacy Centre. (2015). What is Food Literacy? Retrieved from http://www.foodliteracycenter.org/what-food-literacy

Ernesto, S. (2012, November). Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXsLtHqfdM