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How Schools and Communities Can Use Food and Diet to Improve Health

(Battle Creek, Mich., November 22, 2002) Communities and the institutions serving them can play a role in reversing diet-related health problems such as obesity, high cholesterol and heart disease.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation issue paper “Food, Diet and Health” reviews local, state and national programs that offer schools and communities some of the most promising thinking and practices in using food and diet to create better health outcomes. The paper, released today, is the Foundation’s fourth in its “Food for Thought” series.

The programs reviewed in the paper range from “school garden” and “farm-to-school” programs to incorporating food systems classes in school curriculums.

One of the school garden programs cited in the paper is the Edible Schoolyard operating in the Berkeley School District in California. It is a school garden program that incorporates growing fresh produce on school grounds with the integration of school curriculum and other strategies, such as districtwide food policy and farm-to-school education. The program was encouraged by a local chef and supported with resources and technical assistance from the Center for Ecoliteracy.

The paper also included examples of schools incorporating the impact of food on health in their curriculums. Examples range from the “Planting Gardens, Growing Minds” curriculum used in the Knox County Schools in Tennessee to the Food, Land and People curriculum being used in 23 states, including the entire state of Pennsylvania where its use is mandated.       

The paper also reviews federal food programs and the role they can and do play, with updates from the recently passed 2002 Farm Bill. And, it reviews recent policy activities that are creating a better understanding and appreciation for the interrelationship between food, diet and health.

For a full copy of the report, visit the Foundation’s Web site at http://www.wkkf.org/pubs/FoodRur/FandS/Pub3779.pdf on the Foundation’s Food Systems and Rural Development page. Previous papers in the series are: Community-Based Food Systems Enterprises, The Impact of E-Commerce on Agriculture, and the Role of U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture in the 21st Century Food System. All are available on the Foundation’s Food Systems and Rural Development Web page in the “Publications and Resources” section.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 “to help people help themselves through the practical application of knowledge and resources to improve their quality of life and that of future generations.” Its programming activities center around the common vision of a world in which each person has a sense of worth; accepts responsibility for self, family, community, and societal well-being; and has the capacity to be productive, and to help create nurturing families, responsive institutions, and healthy communities.

To achieve the greatest impact, the Foundation targets its grants toward specific areas. These include health; food systems and rural development; youth and education; and philanthropy and volunteerism. Within these areas, attention is given to the cross-cutting themes of leadership; information systems/technology; capitalizing on diversity; and social and economic community development programming. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

More information about the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and its programs is available on the Foundation’s Web site at www.wkkf.org.

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