All About Food

What if we could eliminate childhood obesity and malnutrition by changing the way kids interact with food?

Photo of Doug Gould
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

All About Food was started by a small group of parents who were concerned that childhood obesity, malnutrition, and related illnesses continue to rise at an alarming rate. We realized that a new approach is required to reverse that trend. We need a grassroots movement to create a savvy generation of eaters. They will be the changemakers who transform the world of food and physical wellness through market pressure where government regulation has failed. That is why we started All About Food.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

http://allaboutfoodca.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Orange

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • California

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Anaheim, Fullerton, Placentia, Santa Ana

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Childhood obesity and malnutrition, and the lifetime of poor health that can follow in their wake, continue to rise. Poor eating habits are learned early, are reinforced by many social and socioeconomic constructs, and are difficult to overcome. Research indicates that students of Title I schools show the highest incidence of childhood obesity and malnutrition. To reverse this trend we urgently need to change the way children and families in at-risk communities approach food.

All About Food has launched an independent initiative to improve children’s nutrition, benefiting their health, their education, their families and communities. We are social engineers, changing the way kids look at food.

All About Food is working with Title I schools to improve nutrition education in the underserved and minority communities of Southern California. Our program educates students and their families to ensure that kids are empowered to make good food choices. Using a series of interactive presentations and hands-on activities, students take a journey with food from farm to fork. Topics are broken down into three categories; Growing Food, Eating Food, and the History of Food. Each year of their primary and secondary education, students will learn about a topic from each category. (See Topic Matrix attachment)

Growing Food - Growing Food modules cover everything from seed to sustainability to modern agriculture methods. Kids get hands-on experience composting, garden planning, planting, and harvesting in the school garden. All Growing Food topics use garden visits and observation journals to encourage exploration and reinforce understanding.

Eating Food - Modules on Eating Food are focused on understanding how the body uses food, how to prepare nutritious and delicious meals, budget conscious menu planning, and build connections with local resources in their community. Kids learn the science and math behind cooking and nutrition. Many of the Eating Food topics have take home activities that allow students to practice what they learned and involve the whole family.

History of Food - History of Food modules teach kids how food shaped history, and vice versa. Modules explore the interaction of food and culture from Ancient Egypt to modern day.

Most school districts lack the resources to dedicate to a holistic plan and execution of nutrition lessons can be inconsistent. All About Food provides focus and structure so that students continue to receive hands-on nutrition training every year of their elementary and secondary education.  Additionally,  modules are delivered in class by our trained presenters. This approach makes for a more unique and memorable experience for students, ensures consistent delivery, and reduces prep time for teachers. 

All About Food empowers kids to eat well, the cornerstone of physical wellness, and connects them with their community to give them a strong sense of belonging. With our help, they can transform the world of food.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Community Development and Empowerment
  • Education

Year Founded

2014

Project Stage

  • Established (the solution has passed the previous stages, and has demonstrated success)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

When students are engaged in the All About Food program through their school, they immediately have a new relationship with food. They find a new interest and respect for where their food comes from, why their bodies need healthy fuel, and how their food choices affect themselves and the world around them. For example, Sixth Graders who participate in the Food Waste topic get hands-on experience with tracking food waste at home and in the cafeteria, learn about the economic and ecological costs of food waste, and practice techniques to reduce it. Through dozens of interactive experiences like this, involving growing, tasting, and learning about food, these students become responsible eaters and food consumers, for now and in the future.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Our program has been well received and we have been asked to expand into more schools. We have testimonial letters from school principals and district administrators, as well as thank you cards from parents and students describing positive changes in food habits. Cafeteria staff reports an increase in demand for fresh vegetables and a reduction in waste since the start of the program. We have partnered with Cal State University Fullerton to conduct a comprehensive multi-year study into the effectiveness of our program. The study begins this fall with the intent of publishing the results.
Based on preliminary findings, we expect to see a significant improvement in food preferences and eating habits over the next few years, and a reduction in obesity and malnutrition in the communities we serve.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $100k - $250k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our plan to ensure financial sustainability is to use multiple sources of funding, such as grants, fundraisers, private donations, and fee for service. We continue to build our relationship with current stakeholders as we expand our network of support. We are in the process of expanding and evolving from a volunteer organization into a professionally staffed organization.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

A combination of aspects makes us unique. Our program is comprehensive. Kids not only grow food, but taste food, prepare food, and experience food as a vital part of history, culture, and their own daily lives through access to 34 different lessons from the world of food. Our program enhances common core. Lessons are linked to grade appropriate common core concepts so students are able to understand how those concepts relate to the real world of food. And most importantly, the extensive use of experiential learning to develop a sense of mastery. Practice builds new skills and confidence.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

To truly succeed in this endeavour requires a cross discipline approach, a community plan that brings all sectors together to assess needs and provide community-driven solutions. Several communities have such a plan, but lack the focus on children's wellbeing. A comprehensive approach, tied to existing educational or social institutions, focused on building knowledge and capability-the combination of aspects that make our program effective and unique-can be applied across all sectors. Building that focus and synergy is the most important shift that can advance children's wellbeing.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

RWJF

Program Design Clarity

Title I school students and their families.
Each grade is introduced to 2 or 3 new topics each year. Topics start with a classroom presentation. Most topics have a take home activity. Students also plant and harvest the garden, and complete a garden observation journal.
All activities take place at the schools. Each grade participates in 2 or 3 presentations throughout the year. Gardens are planted and harvested twice a year. Garden observation journals are done once a week for six weeks.
Classroom presentations and the planting and harvesting of the garden are led by our instructors.

Community Leadership

Our program is built on the philosophy of continuous improvement. We solicit feedback from parents, teachers, and community partners and use that feedback to ensure we are relevant and impactful. We close the feedback loop to make sure our stakeholders know that their input is appreciated. Knowing that feedback is valued improves buy in and commitment at all levels as everyone works together to make a better program.

Age of Children Impacted

  • 6 - 12
  • 12+

Spread Strategies

Our spread strategy is to serve all 80,000 students attending the 119 Title I schools in the county. We have a waiting list of schools who are interested in participating and expansion is only limited by funding. We will hire additional staff and add schools as funding becomes available, and we are exploring fee for service options to allow faster growth. New chapters can be opened in other metro areas as interest and support grow.

Reflect on how your work helps children to thrive. How are you cultivating children’s sense of self, belonging, and purpose through your model?

We give children a strong sense of self by exploring their personal experience that makes them who they are, and then teaching them coping skills to eat well in their environment. We give children a sense of purpose by giving them the agency to improve their nutrition and overall health. We give children a sense of belonging by having them work together to grow gardens, reduce waste, and begin reshaping the world of food.

Leadership Story

I have always been a foodie. I learned to cook and bake as a kid spending time with my grandmother. I found out in my 20s that I had high cholesterol and set out to reinvent my diet. It took tremendous effort to figure out how to eat properly and still make it fit into my schedule and my budget. Later, as a volunteer parent at my kids’ school, I noticed how poorly most kids ate and that nobody learns how to cook anymore. (A survey found that 65% of millennials feel they don't know how to cook!) This was my inspiration to reverse the trend by training future generations to eat well.

Organization's Twitter Handle

@allaboutfoodca

Organization’s Facebook Page (URL)

http://www.facebook.com/allaboutfoodca

Leader's LinkedIn Profile (URL)

https://www.linkedin.com/in/douglas-gould-ba232010

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 50%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 37.5%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 12.5%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 25%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 37.5%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 12.5%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 25%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 12.5%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 50%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 12.5%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 25%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 50%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 12.5%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 12.5%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 14.3%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 28.6%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 100%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 71.4%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 14.3%

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Attachments (2)

Topic Matrix.pdf

Matrix shows all of the topics from the All About Food program and how they are organized.

Ruby Drive letter of recommendation.pdf

Letter of recommendation written by the principal of one of our host schools.

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Photo of Lisa Helfman
Team

Doug,
Per your question about produce sourcing, partnerships are the cornerstone of Brighter Bites, and to that end we partner with local food banks and rely on their sourcing expertise for the produce.  We are fortunate to be able to leverage their skills in this department.

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