Schools that Nourish: Stimulating Local Ingenuity and Sparking Nutrient-Nutrition-Nourishment Enterprises

Innovative schools across several countries combine and then spread nutrition-food-farming-ecosystem-economic tools and approaches

Photo of David Strelneck
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Written by

I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Nourish^N (Nourish to the Nth Degree)

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages and is growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $10k - $50k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Nutrition

Headquarters location: Country

  • United States of America

Headquarters location: City

Bath, Maine, USA

Location(s) of impact

Uganda: Kagadi Zambia: Lusaka + rural Kenya: Maasai tribal areas United States: Native American communities; West Bath Maine Then spread globally!


Twitter URL

@strelneck #NutrientValueChains

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

Systemic relationships between nutrition in people and healthy nutrient cycles in ecosystems and in industrial processes are being fractured in numerous ways. This drives public health, environmental and economic problems, and it undermines people's sense of opportunity and ingenuity in many communities. Local wellbeing suffers as a result, as does the "last mile” of regional supply chains (especially as health, agricultural, environmental, economic, cultural and political forces intertwine more and more in society).

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

We will work through many schools, reaching young people who then infect their communities and nations with nourishment enterprise ations, immediately and into the future. Aspects of this approach are already underway in the six schools who are partnering in this initiative (URDT and ARU Uganda, West Bath School and Native American Community Academy USA, Tembea Academy Kenya, Sylva University Zambia). Each has previously innovated an approach to nutrient > nutrition > bio-cultural-economic nourishment opportunities, ranging from student-led cooking competitions to student academic performance correlated with nutritious meals to experiential outdoor learning to student-led financial planning for school gardens to two-generational learning methods and more. We will now combine these into a single kit of resources, merging insights and approaches for widescale use. 15 other social entrepreneurs globally will advise, serve as nourishment enterprise role models, and help promote it.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

This initiative fosters a sense of local opportunity and ingenuity among young people and their communities, leading to startup of creative local social and business enterprises along the ecosystem-soil-farming-food-culture-economy nutrient continuum. Key to this proposition are student insights linked to experiences in health, food, farming and finance; the underlying science; and inspiration and entrepreneurial role models This initiative aims to fortify local leadership now and in the longer term, engaging fast-changing social, environmental, health, cultural, political and economic circumstances with equally fast-moving solutions. And, by doing so, it aims to preserve and enhance society's nutritional assets into the future, including essential raw materials as well as knowledge and social capital related to nutrient spectrum and nutrition in ecosystems, soils, farming, food and public health. The partners in this initiative already demonstrate this impact in act

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Nourish^N is financed via grants (50%) and consulting fees (50%). Future plans may include earned income from products. Our Schools that Nourish initiative, with the budget cited above in this CSV Prize entry, has been supported thus far (i.e. June 2017 convening) through grants from philanthropies (100%). We are seeking funding for next steps, per this CSV Prize entry. Importantly, the development and distribution activities proposed in this initiative are discrete, and will not require future funding (although additional phases and impact would). Also, each school and social entrepreneur partnering in Schools that Nourish is financed through other sources. Therefore, after initial stages, ongoing funding is not necessary for this initiative's impact to continue and grow.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

We see few others focused on value propositions of stewarding the complete nutrient, nutrition, bio-cultural-economic nourishment cycle, not just links in the eco-farm-food-health chain. The cultural drivers of this cycle which our innovators stimulate are also unique. Regarding schools, few seem to realize the integrated educational, health, environmental and economic benefits of focusing students (training + experiences) on this full cycle; we think we are unique in this.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Nourish^N helps propel and spread business models, social initiatives, science, and public policies reflecting the insight that nutrients and nutrition, when stewarded well, are a powerful lever for triggering a wide range of sustainable social, environmental and economic benefits. This insight was developed during nearly seven years of work, with over 100 Ashoka Fellows and others, looking at successful innovations in rural economies around the world. We now pursue aspects of these opportunities that the individual entrepreneurs and institutions are not positioned to seize and advance as they move their own priorities forward. Our Schools that Nourish initiative reflects one of the most powerful patterns in this experience. The integrated health and educational and economic and cultural and environmental stewardship benefits in the participating communities are profound.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Ashoka page or contact
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Attachments (3)

Opportunities at the Intersection of Health Nutrition Agriculture Environment.pdf

Nourish^N's recent one-page note outlining opportunities for action at the intersection of public nutrition and environmental conservation in communities and nations

Nourishment Economy Action Summit -- School and Restaurant Entrepreneurs.pdf

Overview of our June 2017 convening of the social entrepreneurs who are now partnering to submit this CSV Prize entry, including agenda, photos and bios

URDT The New Vision article.pdf

Recent news article citing visit to one of our project partner's sites by the Prime Minister of the country, as noted in our CSV Prize entry


Join the conversation:

Photo of Samir Vinchurkar

Great work done on all three fronts of health, education and environment. Best wishes!

Photo of Sylvie Chin

Hi David, nice project, it would be interesting to cooperate on some content on nutrition, which we could spread on both our networks. Many greetings, Sylvie

Photo of Julie Curtis

I love the grassroots level of this project, allowing young, local leaders to rise to the occasion. In the African countries you are looking to impact, have you incorporating moringa into the curriculum? It is one of those all encompassing topics that impacts health and the environment. If you're curious, you could check out my page to read more about moringa. Best of luck with your work!

Photo of David Strelneck

Thank you. Some of our affiliates work with moringa, in parts of Africa and in Central America. Where moringa grows and has been matched with local culinary appeal (e.g. in a soup product one of our affiliates promotes in Zambia), it seems to be quite successful for everyone. I'll read through your page also to learn more.

Photo of Shirley

Hi David.
Your initiative is really interesting to me. It shares some similarities (goals) with our Nutri-Garden-2-Fork (also submitted for the CSV) initiative in Nigeria. Please we would like to partner with you and share your expertise in improving and scaling up our initiative.

We organise a hands-on gardening, nutrition and food demonstration (cooking) experience during the long vacation (5 weeks). Our goal is to influence healthy eating the children and extend it to families through the children. We encourage them to starts local veggie gardens at home by giving seeds and teaching them what to do. Participating in the process from planting to harvest to cooking is mind blowing and a game changer for many families. We are looking to extend this initiative to schools like you are already doing. One thing I would like to know is how to get the schools' buy in (involvement) to the project. Please share with me how you achieved this.

Thank you.

Photo of David Strelneck

Yes, as you said, "Participating in the process from planting to harvest to cooking is mind blowing and a game changer for many families." We see this experience with social entrepreneurs and our affliates across the world, from India to Ireland to Zambia to USA. This is a powerful lesson we all should build upon.

We will be happy to share lessons, insights, and approaches. This is what our CSV proposal is intended to do, enable us and our affiliates to compile and then spread these lessons, ideas, approaches, and inspiring examples.

Regarding your question about how to get the schools buy-in: briefly, it happens in different ways at different schools, depending on where you find the nutrient-nutrition-nourishment "touch points" at the particular school. In other words, related topics they are already working with or interested in. Our observation is that because the nutrient-nutrition-nourishment cycle is systemic, connecting health of land and health of people in a circular way, wherever you are able to start in a particular school should lead naturally to other other topics as well, so just start at whichever points the school already cares about the most, and with time it will lead to the others. These points of entry are many and diverse, indicating the great power of the Nourishment focus:

- School meal program (morning or mid-day meals)
--- create it, or let the children and chefs re-invent it with local ingredients
- School garden
--- create it, or challenge students to make it financially feasible as well
- Attracting girls to school; the nourishment-cycle focus has been very successful
- Nutritional monitoring of students via simple routine measures
--- correlated with school performance
- Learning actities about the environment which focus on nutrient cycles

Photo of FOLO Farms Malaysia

We built an organic farming outdoor classroom in a public rural school and ran an in house curriculum to educate the students. Subsequently, we are hosting students from public urban schools at our urban farm. Would love to collaborate with you and your team to contextualize your expertise for our region. FOLO Farms Malaysia 

Photo of David Strelneck

Very interesting, thank you. I note that while one of our top global Nourishment Economy insights is how urban-rural relationships between communities are often built around the types of nourishment enterprises whose value proposition in the range of benefits from linking ecosystem-soil-farming-food-health nutritional cycles, none of our innovations in schools (in USA, Germany, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya) include the idea of urban and rural students visiting the food gardens of in each others' communities; very interesting idea. In our Changemakers CSV project entry proposal, collaborating to share and continue learning from the experience in other regions (like yours) is exactly what we mean by creating a kit cataloguing systemic nourishment innovations for use and further development by schools in different regions.

Photo of Karina Bautista

My project also aims to connect various aspects of the food cycle and includes education as a major component. To share experiences from Curriculum design particularly would be great.

Photo of David Strelneck

Great! Thanks. This is exactly what we mean by creating a living kit for use and further development by schools everywhere. Your situation on an island provides a very interesting focus on "closed loop" food-farming-nutrition-conservation cycles, and the long term economic/social/cultural potential around it (exactly what we call Nourishment Economies.) It is useful and innovative to think about how the island experience can then be used to show the potential in regions on the mainland! Regarding sharing experiences, we'd highlight from our school experiences in several countries that the experiential aspects of the student experience tends to be the essential part (including not just the growing but the student-led financial sustainability of the school garden, the academic performance improvements sometimes linked to improved nutrition which the children themselves produced, the links food makes to local cultural traditions which then give the student a sense of agency and local opportunity, the clear impact on local biodiversity and water for this type of regenerative production of nutrition, and how the children then infiltrate the surrounding community with these nourishment-cycle insights and action ideas!) That is what we seek to spread; it sparks enterprises as well as human and environmental vitality. If our entries proceed, let's consider ways of sharing the insights and actions!