The two AmeriCorps VISTAS on the national Campus Kitchens Project team — Andrea, based in the DC office, and Kelly, at Northwestern University — spent Memorial Day weekend in the nation’s capital for the New York Coalition Against Hunger Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps end-of-year conference. The conference brought together 88 AmeriCorps VISTAs working to combat food insecurity in 33 states to meet with national leaders and learn from each other’s experiences. Andrea and Kelly had the opportunity to present their work in nutrition education during the “Sharing Our Best Practices Symposium” that kicked off the weekend.
The Symposium gave VISTA members the opportunity to share their work with each other and with conference guests, including VISTA director Paul Monteiro. The VISTAs shared best practices for implementing SNAP Employment & Training programs, providing nutrition education, working with markets and gardens and developing benefits access plans. Kelly and Andrea worked with VISTAs from Inter-faith Food Shuttle in North Carolina and 18 Reasons in California to present best practices in nutrition education. They provided an overview of curriculum development; planning, implementing and evaluating nutrition education programs; working with peer educators; and making nutrition education programs accessible to SNAP participants at farmers markets.
Andrea opened the presentation with four key aspects of curriculum development based on her experience creating Sowing Seeds for Healthy Kids and a forthcoming nutrition education program for older adults: researching topics and approaches as well as content, identifying key strategies, designing for adaptability and revising materials based on pilot programs. Based on her experience planning, implementing, and evaluating both Campus Kitchens-developed curricula at Northwestern University, Kelly then highlighted the importance of collaborating with student volunteers, community partners, food service staff, dietitians and others.
As Kelly and Andrea finish their years of service in June, they will leave behind new and improved nutrition education materials that can enable Campus Kitchens to increase their impact beyond the meal. A revised version of Building Blocks for Healthy Kids, now accompanied by a teaching guide, as well as the garden-based Sowing Seeds for Healthy Kids curriculum, are available at www.campuskitchens.org/curricula.