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My Summer with Food Literacy Center

This summer we had a watermelon wonderful group of interns that helped us deliver food literacy programming throughout Sacramento. One of our broccoli best, Laura Heckenlively, shares her experience. 

My Summer with Food Literacy Center

Growing up, summertime was always the most fun – running outside, visiting new areas in Sacramento and attending small events that my parents would find in the community. One fond memory I have from my childhood was attending library programs at the Carmichael Public Library for a change of scenery and a bit of time to pick out new books for the next week.

As an intern for Food Literacy Center, I am able to see summer library programs from another perspective. One where I get to see the behind-the-scenes and witness the happiness on kid’s faces when they get a question correct or say something silly.

At the beginning of every lesson, we ask the kids to define “food literacy.” The kids are always tentative to answer and the responses we get are always priceless. I’ve heard responses saying that food literacy means “healthy eating” or “reading food.” It makes me smile at how proud they are about knowing the definition of literate. 

During library lessons, we give kids the chance to do hands-on activities, like coloring or creating a ladybug with their food. I love seeing the older siblings help their young brother or sister when they don’t know the answer or can’t accomplish a task to make sure the younger sibling feels the gratification of participating in the lesson. That is the true collaboration of the youngest generation. 

By the end of the lesson, we have kids yearning for a snack or the meal that they just prepared.

Some kids are nervous to try new fruits and vegetables, going as far as to say they are allergic to blueberries and cabbage and soon retracting those statements when they see their friends all around enjoying the new foods.

Most kids who try all the new ingredients are so proud of themselves that they come up to one of the interns or the Food Literacy Genius and boast to us about how they good of a food adventurer they are being for the day.  It’s incredible to witness how far a little enthusiasm about food and healthy eating can go in the nutrition of kids. 

For our library programs, we end the lesson with a story that coincides with the lessons of the day. This year’s summer reading program at Sacramento Public Library’s was “Read to the Rhythm” - and our food literacy programming was based on integrating food and music.

At one of our programs at the Carmichael Public Library, the chosen book was accompanied by a song. The Food Literacy Genius leading the lesson didn’t know the song, but creatively came up with a tune that soon the kids caught on to and helped out for the rest of the book. It was a loud collaboration of voices that rounded out our lesson before the kids filed out of the room with a loud chorus of  “thank yous.”

Sending the kids off for a summer afternoon full of fun and games is rewarding, especially when you know they are walking out of the lesson with some new facts about healthy eating and how delicious it can be.

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