The Sylvia Center is training young adults from Green City Force (GCF) in our Farm Food Educator program. GCF’s Americorps members serve at urban farms across the city and help build a stronger local food system. The Sylvia Center uses its expertise to help GCF’s corps members build their ability to engage with the community around food and nutrition.
This week, GCF students learned the different vitamins and nutrients that come with eating the rainbow of farm-fresh foods, and then compared them to packaged foods. They learned that beta-carotene, contributes to healthy eyes, hair, and skin, comes from orange vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Dark leafy greens are high in vitamins K, A, C. Iron is found in purple vegetables. Lycopene is good for the heart and for the blood, and is found in red vegetables. They talked about how adding colorful vegetables to their plate can maximize nutrition and taste.
Students also took a closer look at nutrition labels on packaged foods, learning to look for overall calories, and the breakdown of fats, protein and carbohydrates. High-fructose corn syrup is found in many foods and beverages, and is a highly processed ingredient. Students were surprised to learn that there are 52 different names for sugar (like when an ingredient ends with “ose,” it is sugar.) Students talked about how eating habits that include a lot of added salt and sugar can contribute to many health issues – especially high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
When it comes to behavioral changes around food, students recognized that it is challenging and takes time. By enthusiastically sharing a unfamiliar vegetable, a flavorful recipe or a new cooking technique, GCF corps members can demonstrate the importance of eating well. They are becoming champions of fresh food by sharing their growing knowledge of the principles of healthy eating with people who may not be used to eating a variety of fresh vegetables. It is not as easy as saying “Eat it, it’s good!” Students from Green City Force are building the skills, knowledge and confidence to educate and empower the communities they serve through food.
Students study the ingredients that make up their snacks.
Instructor Sam’s lesson plan.