Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA) was born out of love to heal our community by inspiring, engaging and informing women and girls to honor our ancestors: 1) by embracing our foodways to heal ourselves and our communities; 2) becoming a healthy food entrepreneur and 3) advocating for healthy food policies for their communities.
Based in Washington, DC, WANDA is a Pan-African women’s leadership network from farm to fork that recognizes that women and girls of African descent are severely underrepresented in these fields. We are developing a pipeline and a platform for women and girls of African descent offering mentorship, service leadership and training opportunities to encourage them to lead in transforming themselves, their communities and the food system.
Why empower Little WANDA and Big WANDA?
- We invest in girls because they will become women with the capacity to uplift their families and transform their lives.
- As future nutrition researchers, food scientists, dieticians, farmers and food entrepreneurs, they will build local economies and promote inclusion in the STEM field.
- As community educators, they will share and preserve their cultural foodways. Also as mothers they will provide the first foods for their babies.
- Women and girls - eat locally and think globally - are key drivers of influence of taste, choice and trends in food.
"Where's WANDA?" inspires girls to become explorers within themselves, healers of their meals, citizens of the world. Little WANDA is the "DocMcStuffins" of nutrition meets "Dora the Explorer" of the African diaspora encouraging girls to become food sheroes and global citizens by learning their foodways and how to heal their community.
The "Where's WANDA?" character Little WANDA is the role model for girls to aspire to become champions for their community like First Lady Michelle Obama. They will continue to carry the torch for supporting healthier communities through food and nutrition.
Using a "train the trainer" model, "Where's WANDA?" program equips educators, parents and mentors to become Big WANDAs to support and inspire Little WANDAs in their community. As a part of the "Where's WANDA?" experience, Big WANDAs and Little WANDAs will identify a nutrition challenge to address through education, advocacy and innovation.
The WANDA's World toolkit will include the “Where’s WANDA? book series, resource guide, certificates, pre- and post- surveys, and lesson plans. After completing the program, they will be awarded a WANDA certificate and scorecards to measure impact. We will have an online forum to promote communities of practice and collaboration.
"Where's WANDA?" program creates empowering girl-themed messages that they can identify with, have ownership plus positive mentorship about their heritage, healing wisdom, history and identity through food. Food is a powerful tool to express identity, value and build a culture of healing that lies within the community.
In the curriculum, Little WANDAs discover a world of food sheroes from Africa the Diaspora such as Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai, First Lady Michelle Obama, Mikaila Ulmer, Food historian Dr. Jessica Harris and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics President Dr. Evelyn Crayton.
With the the guidance of Big WANDAs, they embark on a self-discovery journey from farm to fork learning about female farmers, nutritionists, farmer markets, African restaurants, and food purveyors through field experiences that they capture through photos, videos and stories.
The heart of the "Where's WANDA?" program beats the ancestral wisdom of Mama Africa meets the spiritual nature of Mother Earth. For the plants, trees and rivers share their powerful messages coupling with words of wisdom from food sheroes like Wangari Maathai of Kenya and Oprah Winfrey in America.
During the program, Big and Little WANDAs pledge to uphold these WANDA principles gained from their WANDA's World experience: a call to food sheroes on a purpose-filled journey:
- W: wisdom of her ancestors guides her journey
- A: authenticity is the path she walks and talks
- N: nourishes her mind, body and spirit with reaffirming self-love
- D: determined to dig deep and become rooted to remain still in spirit
- A: arise from tribulations spreading her wings and bear fruit for her community
Diving into girl-themed lessons in a supportive sister space, Little WANDAs will explore food intersectionality issues along with career exploration topics but not limited to:
- food + femininity = redefining food, feminism and power and Goddess foods
- food + mood = stress, trauma, eating disorders and body image
- food + spirituality = mindful eating, food consciousness
- food + heritage = African foodways, food rituals, and new traditions
- food + function = food as medicine, nutritional science, and have tastings
- food + art = creative expression by playing with food as a form of healing
- food + tech = sharing their voice via blogs, videos, and ads
- food + justice = food equity as a civil rights issue
- food + agriculture = meet female farmers, and learn environmental issues
- food + policy = participate in grassroots advocacy and policymaking process
- food + entrepreneurship = tour food incubators and develop business ideas
- food + herstory = study food sheroes and create food shero stories
Along the journey she not only discovers self, but discovers the food friends that help her on the journey to the heal the community. The foods give her wisdom and nourishment. Through the Big WANDA-Little WANDA bonding, personal childhood food issues may rise; Little WANDAs work together in sisterhood and at times independently on various activities:
- writing a blog post for National Nutrition Month
- write a food review of your meal at an African restaurant
- testify for 'nutrition education for all' to City Council
- attend a food policy meeting
- shadow a nutritionist
- interview a female food entrepreneur
- take photos of food tour experiences
- keep a food journal
- make an art piece using food
- meditate and taste a new food you never experienced
Engaging, entertaining and educating guide the lesson plans and activities with key learning themes for the Little WANDAs to grow, challenge and become food sheroes in their community:
- sense of self: adapting and trust the process and Big WANDA
- responsibility of self and others: being independent
- prosocial behavior: thinking to resolve conflict
- problem solving: role-play, circle time
- logical: group and compare foods around the Diaspora
- symbol: Where's WANDA? puppet theatre
- listening and speaking: food memoirs and journalling
- reading/writing: books and blogs, learning African languages,
WANDA seeks to educate, advocate and innovate for women and girls in the areas of agriculture, nutrition and dietetics by cross-cutting sectors of education, community development and health care. Big WANDAs (who are current and emerging leaders) inspire, influence and invest in Little WANDAs (primary school to college). Using a multimedia platform, we bring awareness and appreciation of Big WANDAs, provide skills and support to Little WANDAs. Ultimately we are planting the seed for the "soul sisterhood of the soil" to take root and bear fruit for the community to thrive.
- EDUCATE: Provide skills-based training and continuing education in agriculture and nutrition
- WANDA Ambassadors program is a speakers bureau
- WANDA's World "train the trainer" program to reach and teach to primary aged school girls.
- WANDA Writers will develop inspirational stories of WANDA Women on the first Wednesday of the month for the website.
- ADVOCATE: Build a grassroots advocacy initiative as a key part of mobilizing women and girls to lead in creating healthy communities.
- #IamWANDA brings awareness on unsung food sheroes who are creating the change in their communities
- #ILoveWANDA focuses on men to become the gate openers of opportunity for women and girls
- INNOVATE: Leverage technology to build a pan-African women’s network and promote entrepreneurial activities to strengthen local economies.
#IamWANDA is the hashtag campaign to share awareness that food sheroes exist and will continue to emerge to bring the change that we so desperately need on college campuses, schools, communities and homes.
WANDA cross cuts sectors, generations and geographies to ensure a new crop of women and girls lead from farm to fork. We recognize that women and girls hold the key to bring the healing and reconciliation through food and heritage that we need for a firm foundation to move forward in the future.
Through our partnership with NativSol Kitchen and Genii Games, we bring creativity, culture and our heritage foods to Little WANDAs to inspire and inform them to lead healthy lives. Additional partners such as sororities, women-led groups, motherhood networks and girl empowerment programs are key in expanding our reach.