“Food has always been a really important part of my life,” says Third Grade Pelicans Teacher Taryn Colonnese, whose lifelong interest in the study of nutrition has led her to take an active role in community gardens and the food justice movement. When she joined CDS last year, she expanded our nutrition unit beyond abstract scientific concepts, applying a social justice lens to the study of food. Her teaching framework is based around five essential questions:
1. What is food? Why is food so important to us?
2. Where does the energy in food come from?
3. How do our bodies get and use nutrients from foods?
4. Why do people eat the food they eat? Are people always able to eat the foods they want to or know they should eat?
a. What is food justice? What is food access?
5. What can a nutritious, balanced meal look like?
Over the course of the unit, Taryn hopes to inspire a positive attitude in her students and dispel stereotypes about supposedly unhealthy foods and the people who may not have access to balanced meals. She discusses the importance of variety and moderation in diets and works with her students on many projects; these include a dissection of pinto bean seeds, a study of food marketing, and a final assignment that calls for students to design a healthy lunch and create an advertisement encouraging people to eat it.
The study of nutrition also ties in with this year’s theme of activism. Taryn covers the existence of “food deserts” in San Francisco and elsewhere, the impact of food availability on children’s rights, and local organizations that work towards nutritional justice. “All students are coming from different food backgrounds, and they have different food stories,” Taryn concludes. We hope to create a model of food activism that takes all people’s needs into account, and we hope that our nutritional program will allow us to do so.