Amber Stott founded the nonprofit California Food Literacy Center in 2011 to fight childhood obesity by teaching low-income K-5th grade kids to eat smart. The nonprofit grew from an idea to statewide recognition in only a year. In 2012, Stott worked with the California legislature to pass a resolution declaring every September Food Literacy Awareness Month in the state.
“I saw a gap in the food system. We had people without access to fresh food, and we had food banks beginning to bring in more produce. Yet, we still have two generations of Americans who don’t know how to cook,” said Stott. “Learning how to cook and about nutrition are critical to combating childhood obesity.”
The nonprofit’s food literacy curriculum teaches kids how to cook, fruit and vegetable appreciation, nutrition, where food comes from, and more. After only three months in the program 90% of kids say healthy food tastes good. 70% of kids ask their families for the foods they eat in class, like broccoli and celery. The nonprofit reaches 2,400 kids per year.
This work is critical in the fight against childhood obesity. Studies show that low intake of vegetables in childhood is linked to health problems throughout the life span, including allergy, asthma, heart disease and diabetes. By getting kids excited to eat more fruits and veggies, California Food Literacy Center is creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
This year, the nonprofit launched the Food Literacy Academy to train community members as food literacy teachers. The 10-week intensive training provides instruction in food safety, nutrition, food systems, classroom management, curriculum development and more. Upon completion of the program, certified Food Literacy Advocates commit to 100 annual hours of volunteer food literacy instruction in the community. Twenty advocates have been trained, and the nonprofit will launch another academy in the fall.
“We need to work at all levels of our community to make food education a priority,” said Stott. “We need to work together to move food literacy education into every school.”
California Food Literacy Center is pleased to work with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Food Day to move its Food Education in Every School campaign forward in the Sacramento area.
On September 7 the nonprofit co-hosts a Food Literacy Fair with Assemblymember Roger Dickinson and the Midtown Farmers Market to celebrate the local passage of their Food Literacy Month resolution by Sacramento County and City. At the event, a Kids’ Recipe Contest will be launched to inspire kids around the region to cook nutritious food with their families.
Stott said, “Kids are more likely to eat healthy food when they help cook it themselves.”