Youth Nutrition Education Programs Making a Difference

by Charles Platkin, PhD

Getting kids to eat right and think about healthy foods are critical to improving quality of life and reducing risk of disease for future generations. Here are a few notable organizations focusing on children’s nutrition education.

Edible Schoolyard NYC (
·      What they do: Edible Schoolyard NYC teaches garden and kitchen classes to New York City public school students. Their vision is that all children will be educated and empowered to make healthy food choices for themselves, their communities, and their environment, actively achieving a just and sustainable food system for all.
·      Their mission: “Edible Schoolyard NYC partners with public schools to transform the hearts, minds, and eating habits of young New Yorkers through garden and kitchen classes integrated into the school day.”
·      Latest project/campaign: Their newest program, Network Schools, brings a seed-to-table education to more schools by creating a scalable, replicable version of their proven education model.
·      Location: New York City
·      Email and phone:; 347-565-0100
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @esynyc, Twitter: @ESYNYC,Instagram: @esynyc
·      Director: Kate Brashares
·      Date started: 2010
·      Major funding: Supporters include nonprofits, foundations, corporate partners, and both the culinary and wellness communities..
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit.
·      Annual budget (Approximate): $2,100,000
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Edible Schoolyard NYC works to address health inequities by providing schools in low-income communities with integrated food education. When food education is treated with the same importance as math or English classes, students gain lifelong habits of healthy eating and knowledge of sustainable food production.

Food Corps (
·      What they do: FoodCorps is a nationwide team of AmeriCorps leaders who are placed in limited-resource schools to teach students about healthy food through hands-on lessons, partner with farmers and food service workers to create nutritious and delicious school meals, and collaborate with communities to inspire a long-term culture of health.
·      Their mission: “Together with communities, FoodCorps serves to connect kids to healthy food in school.”
·      Location: USA (Offices in NYC and Portland)
·      Latest project/campaign: N/A
·      Email and phone:, 212-596-7045
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @foodcorps, Twitter: @FoodCorps,Instagram: @FoodCorps; Pinterest: @FoodCorps
·      Director: Curt Ellis
·      Date started: Incorporated as a nonprofit in 2010; programming started in 2011
·      Major funding: Individual and foundation contributions, grants, and program service fees.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget (Approximate): $8,657,843 (2015 annual report)
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Even though individual AmeriCorps service members are only in a school for 1-2 years, FoodCorps places successive corps members in the same location, with the goal of eventually helping the school to incorporate these programs into the fabric of its daily curriculum and programming, so there will be no need for a FoodCorps member to be present forever.

Wellness in the Schools (
·      What they do: Through meaningful public-private partnerships, Wellness in the Schools (WITS) empowers schools to provide healthy, scratch-cooked meals, active recess periods, and fitness and nutrition education. WITS actively engages students and school staff in a fundamental reimagination of the lunch and recess experience. Trained culinary graduates partner with cafeteria staff to feed kids real food, and fitness coaches encourage schools to let kids play. In doing so, we shift the culture of a school.
·      Their mission: To inspire healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools.
·      Location: New York City
·      Latest project: WITS is currently working on a national expansion plan through direct program implementation and the creation of toolkits to create a wider reach for our programming.
·      Email and phone:, 212-724-2130
·      Social Media Handles: Facebook : @WellnessintheSchools, Twitter: @WITSinSchools, Instagram: @wellnessintheschools
·      Director: Nancy Easton
·      Date started: 2005
·      Sources of funding: Corporate donors, foundation grants, individual funding, city government, state government
·      Profit or Nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget (Approximate): $3,100,000
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: Michelin-starred chef Bill Telepan joined WITS after seeing the organization’s work transforming the cafeteria in his daughter’s school, PS 87. Chef Telepan serves as Executive Chef of WITS, leading recipe development, facilitating partnerships with other restaurants and well-known chefs, and supporting training of our chefs. Through Chef Telepan’s leadership, WITS has been able to build a bridge connecting the work we do with the culinary world.

ChopChopKids (
·      What they do: ChopChopKids seeks to educate children in nutritional literacy so that they grow into healthy adults. Their child-friendly, quarterly magazine, ChopChop, features healthy and delicious meals, encouraging children and parents to cook together and establish a healthy, lifelong relationship with food.
·      Their mission: “ChopChopKids is an innovative non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and teach kids to cook real food with their families. We believe that cooking and eating together as a family is a vital step in resolving the obesity and hunger epidemics.”
·      Latest project/campaign: ChopChop Cooking Club and pledge to cook dinner together once a month.
·      Location: USA; headquarters in Belmont, MA.
·      Email and phone:, 617-924-3993
·      Social media handles: Facebook: @ChopChopMagazine, Twitter: @chopchopmag
·      Director: Sally Sampson
·      Date started: 2010
·      Major funding: Hospitals, foundations, magazine subscriptions, and individual donations.
·      Profit or nonprofit: Nonprofit
·      Annual budget: N/A
·      Interesting fact about how they are working to improve the food system: ChopChop works by encouraging families to cook together and establish a healthy relationship with food from a young age. Children are taught healthy habits, culinary skills, and nutritional education in the hopes of growing into knowledgeable and healthy adults.

Photo courtesy of Wellness in the Schools

Research and additional reporting by Alexina Cather

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