Healthy Habits for Life: Minneapolis School Kids Engage with Foods Hands-On

From by Clare Algozin
Healthy Habits for Life: Minneapolis School Kids Engage with Foods Hands-On

The mission of Midwest Food Connection (MFC) is to use educational curriculum to teach children in the Minneapolis area about making better food choices. They offer a variety of programs and field trips to teach kids not only about healthy food choices, but about sustainable farming and agriculture in their area. By providing these programs, MFC is preparing children to lead healthier lives from a younger age.

Food Tank had the opportunity to speak with Haruko Ruggiero, Curriculum Specialist at Midwest Food Connection.

Food Tank (FT): How do you contribute to creating a better food system?

Haruko Ruggiero (HR): Midwest Food Connection empowers elementary school children to make healthy and responsible food choices.Through lessons in schools (including lessons in school gardens) and trips to Twin Cities area farms, we educate children about natural foods, local sustainable farming, and the cultural origins of our food.

FT: What is a project, program, or result you are most proud of? Please explain.

HR: We have become a program that teachers in over 50 schools in the Twin Cities call upon to provide their students with fun, engaging and memorable lessons on healthy eating that corresponds to, or easily integrates into their classroom curriculum.  

FT: What are your goals for 2015 and beyond?

HR: We plan to continue to fulfill our program mission through lessons that engage kids with story telling, art, science, history, discussion, hands-on cooking and much more.  

We are also very excited about two new projects. First, our Middle School unit which we call "Habits for Healthy Life - Grades 6-8.”  We have designed this set of four lessons specifically for the middle school years. Children learn about marketing, how to judge flavor, and the pleasures and pitfalls of sugars, fats, and salt.

Second, we are partnering with the Minneapolis Public Schools this upcoming school year and will highlight some of the school lunch offerings of local food in selected lessons throughout the year.

FT: In one sentence, what is the most important thing eaters and consumers can do today to support a more sustainable food system?

HR: With regards to children and adults alike, develop an interest, supported by a developing knowledge base, of how individual eating choices (especially of unprocessed, "close-to-the plant" foods) have an impact in supporting a healthy environment and economy.

FT: How can individuals become more involved in your organization?

HR: They can contact us through Facebook or email, which can be found on our website, and we can discuss opportunities.

Download the 2015 Good Food Org Guide HERE.

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