Archive for the ‘Children’ Category


Sowing the Seeds of a Food-Secure Future

Pin It

By Dana Drugmand

Worldwide, 195 million children suffer from malnutrition, which adversely affects their development and overall well-being. Approximately 26 percent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the number of malnourished children in the region will rise 18 percent between 2001 and 2020. Fortunately, innovations such as school feeding programs and kitchen vegetable gardens are working to combat malnutrition and hunger in African children.

Schoolchildren in Uganda are learning how to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens funded by Seeds for Africa. (Photo Credit: Kellogg)

One organization, Seeds for Africa, has been instrumental in helping children gain access to local, nutritious fruits and vegetables. A central part of this organization’s work is teaching children the value of growing their own food by helping them to establish kitchen gardens and fruit tree orchards. Seeds for Africa funds kitchen vegetable garden development at primary schools in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

In Kenya, Seeds for Africa coordinator Thomas Ndivo Muema has helped primary schools in the Nairobi region establish vegetable gardens and orchards of 200 fruit trees and has also supplied water tanks. In Uganda, fruit trees and vegetable gardens have been established at 77 schools around Kampala, the capital city. And in Sierra Leone, Seeds for Africa coordinator Abdul Hassan King has helped oversee tree planting projects in 50 primary schools and advised kitchen vegetable gardens operating at 15 other schools.

In 2011, Kellogg UK donated £6434 (US$9,946) to Seeds for Africa to fund “breakfast clubs” in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia—clubs in which schoolchildren are fed breakfast if they attend class. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, some 60 percent of children come to school without having eaten breakfast, if they attend school at all. By providing a nutritious breakfast, the initiative helps to improve attendance as well as academic performance and student well-being. Results from breakfast club trials indicate that students who participated scored better on school tests and were happier overall than students who did not participate. School attendance also increased to 95 percent.



Documentary Sheds New Light on Thriving Community Gardens

Pin It

By Carol Dreibelbis

There are an estimated 18,000 community gardens in the United States and Canada, according to the group Why Hunger, and thousands more worldwide. Designing Healthy Communities, a project of the nonprofit Media Policy Center, notes that community gardens “can play a significant role in enhancing the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being necessary to build healthy and socially sustainable communities.”

Naasir Ali participates in the “Growing Food…Growing Together” program at the Washington Youth Garden. (Photo credit: Cintia Cabib)

In her 2011 documentary A Community of Gardeners, filmmaker Cintia Cabib offers an intimate look at the vital role that seven community gardens play in Washington, D.C.

At Common Good City Farm, a work-exchange program enables local residents to volunteer in the garden in exchange for fresh produce. One volunteer explains just how important the garden is for her: “The garden plays a big role in my life because it feeds me. I live out of this garden: whatever I get every Wednesday, that’s what feeds me for the whole week.”

At Fort Stevens Community Garden, an organic garden run by the National Park Service, immigrant gardeners from around the world grow fruits and vegetables that are native to their homelands in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The Park Service also provides land and water for the Melvin Hazen Community Garden, which was once a World War II victory garden.



21 Awesome Policies Changing the Food System!

Pin It

Today we celebrate World Food Day in commemoration of the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It is a chance to renew our commitment to sustainable and equitable agriculture as a means of ending world hunger.

Around the world, governments and organizations alike have made huge strides towards achieving the principles on which the FAO was founded. Governments on every continent have taken significant steps to change food systems for the better, making them more sustainable, healthy, and accessible to all. Today, we showcase just 21 of the many recent policies and laws enacted by governments worldwide that are helping to change the food system, promote sustainable agriculture, and eradicate hunger.

1. The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act was passed in 2010 with a focus on improving the nutrition of children across the United States. Authorizing funding for federal school meal and child nutrition programs, this legislation allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make real reforms to school lunch and breakfast programs and promote healthy eating habits among the nation’s youth. Read more about the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and 15 innovations making school meals healthier and more sustainable on the Nourishing the Planet blog.

2. The Rwanda Agricultural Board (RAB) was founded in 2011 to help improve the provision of services to farmers in the country. It focuses on adapting its policies to local needs, developing sustainable production systems, and providing farmers and consumers with education, techniques, and services to help supply Rwandans with better foods. The RAB has received praise for its efforts from organizations like the Executive Board of the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa.

3. Beginning in 2008, the Australian government committed $12.8 million for 190 primary schools across Australia to participate in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program. Hoping to encourage healthy and nutritious eating habits in young Australians, the program works with primary schools to teach students how to grow, harvest, prepare, and share fresh food.



25 Youth Making Agriculture Cool

Pin It

Young people around the world are using their energy and creativity to build a brighter future for the planet. From farm-to-school networks to agriculturally focused cartoons, youth have created extremely innovative projects in sustainable agriculture that deserve recognition. Here are 25 individuals making agriculture both intellectually and economically stimulating for youth around the world:

1. Will Allen is the founder of Growing Power, Inc, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mr. Allen began Growing Power in 1993 to train urban farmers and to encourage community food systems. His organization has been on the forefront of the aquaponics movement, a farming technique mixing aquaculture and soil-less agriculture.


2. BCFN YES! is holding a competition for the best student idea focusing on “Food and Sustainability: How to reduce our impact on the environment, while securing health and access to food for all.” New entries closed on September 5, but public voting for semi-finalists began on October 1. Vote to help us choose the next Youth Making Agriculture Cool! The top 10 semi-finalists will present at the 4th International Forum on Food and Nutrition.


3. The Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension at the Cape Coast University in Ghana is attempting to improve agricultural extension services throughout the country. The program chooses extensionists already working with farmers from all over Ghana, the majority of whom would not otherwise have the resources to attend college. The extension workers learn how to communicate and collaborate with farmers to determine the best solutions for each community. Listen to Nourishing the Planet’s interview with Professor Festus Annor-Frempong to learn more about how Cape Coast University is improving Ghanaian agriculture.

4. Earth University, in Costa Rica, offers four-year bachelor degrees in agricultural sciences and natural resources management. The University focuses on international students from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. Nearly one quarter of the University’s alumni go on to become entrepreneurs. Whole Foods, which has a long-running relationship with the school, distributes several Earth University products, allowing students’ ideas to influence the supply process.

5. Diana Fan won the 21st International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment in 2012. The event, organized by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), encouraged children to depict “Green Communities.” Diana’s painting, above, won her US$2,000 and a free trip to next year’s International Children’s Conference on the Environment. Finding a way to gain children’s interest in the environment and agriculture, such as the Painting Competition, is integral to sustainability (Painting by Diana Fan).

6. Food Corps places volunteers in high-obesity, limited-resource communities to encourage healthy diets and gardening among children. By teaching kids what healthy food is and how it is produced, children can grow up making informed decisions about their diets. Volunteers serve for one year and are eligible for a $15,000 living allowance.


7 and 8. Amie Frisch and Mark Anthony Medeiros co-founded Veggielution, a two-acre urban community farm, after graduating from San Jose University in California. The farm offers local food and a chance for the community to gain hands-on farming experience through volunteering. The group also provides part-time summer jobs to high school students through the “Dig It” program.


9. Jonathan Glencross spearheaded McGill University’s Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) along with the McGill Food Systems Project (MFSP) in 2009. SPF has helped sponsor several projects throughout the University. MFSP has also worked with the dining halls at McGill University to buy food supplies from local sources.


10. Ellen Gustafson co-founded the FEED Projects in 2007 and launched the 30 Project in 2010. FEED sells a popular brand of handbags, donating a portion of each sale to the United Nations World Food Program to fund school lunches. The 30 Project brings together key organizations and activists in agricultural development to work together to transform our agricultural system over the next 30 years. Gustafson also provided an interview in Eating Planet: Nutrition Today—A Challenge for Mankind and for the Planet, a new book by the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition.

11. Sarah Elizabeth Ippel started the Academy for Global Citizenship. In 2005, when Sarah was 23, she proposed the environmentally friendly charter school to the Chicago Board of Education. By 2007 she received approval. The charter school provides a holistic approach for students to learn global stewardship: from running off renewable energy, to offering all-organic meals and a student garden. In 2010, Sarah received Chicago Magazine’s Green Award.

12. Rowen Jin is a project manager for World Water Relief, a non-profit organization focusing on WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) in Hispaniola. Having recently received her Bachelors degrees in Biology and English, Rowen began working for World Water Relief in Haiti this year. Rowen first visited Haiti in 2011 as a disaster relief volunteer. World Water Relief focuses on helping individual communities where tangible improvements can be achieved. Projects range from school hand-washing to improved sanitation stations.

13. Paul Peter Kades is an actor for ShujaazFM, a Kenyan comic focusing on agricultural innovations. Paul is the voice of the main character, Boyie, and the host of ShujaazFM. Shujaaz means ‘heroes’ in Sheng, emphasizing the importance of the comics’ agricultural lessons. One issue explains the importance of vaccinating chickens to protect them from Newcastle Disease. With roughly 12 million readers each month, Paul’s program helps teach sustainable agricultural practices in a fun and interesting way.

14. Edward Mukiibi founded the Uganda-based Developing Innovations in School Cultivation (DISC) in 2006. The non-profit helps Ugandan primary schools grow fresh, clean produce. The first program of its kind in Uganda, Edward intends to make agriculture fun for children. This year, Reuters AlertNet named Edward among the “top 10 food trailblazers.”


15. Sithembile Ndema is a program manager for Food and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) in Southern Africa. Sithembile manages FANRPAN’s WARM (Women Accessing Realigned Markets) project, which uses theater to empower women farmers in southern Malawi and Mozambique. The production facilitates community discussions about the issues addressed in each performance. Sithembile was also a contributing author to State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet.

16. Andrea Northup founded the Washington, D.C. Farm to School Network. The organization promotes sourcing local and fresh foods in D.C. schools. Andrea helped promote the legislation to incentivize the use of fresh food in schools. This year, the National Resources Defense Council named her the Young Food Leader of the Growing Green Awards.


17. Molly Rockamann founded the farm EarthDance in Ferguson, Missouri in 2008, at the age of 26. EarthDance offers an innovative Organic Farming Apprenticeship program, allowing urban dwellers to connect with the agricultural process. There will be 28 farm apprentices this year alone. The farm even held a benefit concert this summer, entitled “Farms Rock!” Molly received the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2011 Growing Green Award for Young Food Leader.

18. Danielle Sewell was a Peace Corps Volunteer working with the Farmers of the Future project in Western Africa. Farmers of the Future—an International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics’ (ICRISAT) project—teaches children agriculture skills through both traditional classroom lessons and hands-on experience. Danielle served as an agricultural worker for the project and conducted a survey analyzing the programs results. The Farmers of the Future project distributed four trees to each student (including a “Sahelian Apple” tree and a mulberry tree). Those students with the best-cared-for trees received prizes. Danielle’s experience demonstrates the wide-array of programs through which young people can make agriculture cool.

19. Tristram Stuart is a writer and food activist. He is the author of Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal and The Bloodless Revolution, he founded Feeding the 5000, and he wrote Chapter 9 of World Watch’s State of the World 2011. Tristram exposes the vast waste of food around the world: roughly one-third of food produced is lost or wasted annually. He explains how we can drastically reduce our waste, and our impact on the environment, by buying less food, keeping an eye on expiration dates, and voting with each food purchase to discourage business waste. Feeding the 5000 is an annual event that feed 5000 people on perfectly healthy food that would otherwise have been thrown out. Our food choices have a major environmental impact.

20. Shawn Sweeney leads Youth Outreach and Engagement for Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots. Roots and Shoots connects thousands of young environmental activists around the world, helping members with service projects and campaigns. Shawn strives to connect these young activists through digital networking and to engage them with social media.


21. Aurelia Weintz is the Program Coordinator in Egypt for Slow Food’s “A Thousand Gardens in Africa.” The goal of the project at large is to create 1,000 school gardens in 25 African countries. Nearly 800 communities have already been involved, including four in Egypt. Aurelia has a background in environmental education, drawing her to this program. Her projects target ordinary people, proving the urban dwellers can participate in food production.

22. Nicole Wires is the Food System Change Coordinator at Collective Roots, a non-profit in East Palo Alto, California. Collective Roots teaches local students in gardening and encourages decentralized urban farming. Nicole began working with Collective Roots as an intern before moving into her current role. She works with this low-income district of Palo Alto to promote sustainable food systems through communal labor and decentralized farming.

23. In 2007, the World Cocoa Foundation began Empowering Cocoa Households with Opportunities and Education Solution (ECHOES). Its programs provide education to youth in cocoa communities. ECHOES currently offers educational opportunities throughout 79 communities in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Educational facilities include vocational agriculture training, functional literacy training, and family support scholarships. Such programs encourage youth to remain in their agricultural communities.


24. Ramon Zepeda is the Youth Organizer for the U.S.-based Student Action for Farmworkers (SAF). He began working with SAF in 2005 through the Fields Internship Program. Ramon has since helped organize several youth events supporting the farmworkers’ rights.



25. Alex Zizinga is the founder and coordinator of The Community Livelihood Project, a BOLD Food Fellow, and a Natural Resource Scientist. As a BOLD Fellow, Alex received training in food security and participated in an U.S.-African exchange program. The Community Livelihood Project works with farmers in Nangabo, Uganda to provide training and to incorporate indigenous plants into their crops, leading to year-round harvests and surplus yields. This program helps struggling families overcome seemingly insurmountable agricultural barriers.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.


Chase Campaign: Feeding and Educating Our Youth

Pin It

By Devon Ericksen 

This month, The Worldwatch Institute celebrates the role of youth in the creation of a just and sustainable future. Nourishing the Planet knows that we must not only teach our children about proper nutrition to ensure that they live healthy lives, but also to care about the future of sustainable agriculture. Around the world, children face problems ranging from malnutrition and lack of access to education in developing countries, to obesity and poor school lunches in developed countries.

The future of the world’s food system depends on what we teach and feed our children today (Photo Credit: Food Network)

Though the problems may differ, the solution remains the same: develop local agriculture systems with which to sustainably produce nutritious food for our children. In August, we highlighted ways that people are working to bring agriculture closer to home in our post, “From a Garden in South Africa to a Cafeteria in California: Sharing Meals and Good Ideas”. By making fresh produce more accessible, whether it is delivered from a local farm or grown in the schoolyard, organizations such as Abalimi Bezekhaya in South Africa, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers in California, and the Washington D.C. Farm to School Network are all working to feed our youth healthier food, whether they live in situations of poverty or wealth, whether they are obese or malnourished.

Just in time for school to start, we provided ideas and examples for improving school lunches in our post 15 Innovations to Make School Lunches Healthier and More Sustainable. These changes are badly needed at a time when one-third of American children are overweight or obese—a recent study found that children who eat school lunches are much more likely to be obese than children who bring lunch from home. From school gardens to healthy vending machines, change is happening across the country as people realize the importance of feeding our children healthier food.



The United Nations Environment Programme announces 22nd International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment

Pin It

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is sponsoring the 22nd International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment. The painting competition has been held since 1991 and has received entries from more than three million children in more than 150 countries. This year’s theme is “Water: The Source of Life.” Children from all over the world are invited to submit their original paintings to the UNEP office in their region by February 29, 2013.

Please visit the UNEP website for competition details, to download the brochure, and to view photo galleries of children’s artwork from past competitions.



Celebrating 25 Amazing Women

Pin It

Throughout September, the Worldwatch Institute is celebrating the crucial role that women and youth play in ushering in the just and environmentally sustainable future that we’re working hard to bring about. Even in the 21st century, women own less than 15 percent of the world’s land, earn 17 percent less than men on average, and comprise two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults. Today, Nourishing the Planet features 25 amazing women from all over the globe who have been ongoing sources of inspiration, to NtP and others.

If you haven’t already, please vote for Worldwatch as part of the Chase Giving Challenge on Facebook. Click here to cast your vote today! Also please connect with Nourishing the Planet’s Facebook page where you will find infographics, quotes, articles, and news that can’t be found anywhere else.

1.       Rebecca Adamson
Rebecca Adamson, a Cherokee, has worked directly with grassroots tribal communities, and nationally as an advocate of local tribal issues since 1970. She started First Nations Development Institute in 1980 and First Peoples Worldwide in 1997. Adamson’s work established a new field of culturally appropriate, value-driven development which created: the first reservation-based microenterprise loan fund in the United States; the first tribal investment model; a national movement for reservation land reform; and legislation that established new standards of accountability regarding federal trust responsibility for Native Americans. Adamson is active in many nonprofits and serves on the board of directors of numerous organizations, including the Josephine Bay Paul and C. Michael Paul FoundationThe Bridgespan Group, and First Voice International.

2.       Lorena Aguilar
Lorena Aguilar—Global Senior Gender Adviser at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature—is an international advisor for numerous organizations, governments, and academic institutions on topics related to gender, water, environmental health, and community participation, with over twenty-five years of experience in the field of international development. She is actively committed to incorporating gender perspectives into the use and conservation of natural resources in Latin America, and has both created and participated in some of the most influential gender networks in the world. Aguilar has authored over seventy publications, and has been the keynote speaker at numerous high-level international conferences.

3.       Helen Browning
Helen Browning is chief executive of the Soil Association, the United Kingdom’s leading nonprofit working for healthy, humane, and sustainable food, farming, and land use. In addition to running the Soil Association, Browning operates a 1,350 acre organic farm in Wiltshire, and runs the village pub. Helen is also chair of the Food Ethics Council, and has been a valuable member of numerous organizations working to improve the British food and agriculture system, including the Curry Commission on the Future of Farming and Food, the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, and the Meat and Livestock Commission. (more…)


Innovations to Make School Food Healthier in London

Pin It

Check out our latest op-ed published in the London Free Press of Ontario, Canada. The op-ed discusses school food programs in the area that are helping to improve child health and nutrition.

Unequal access to healthy foods is a serious issue in London—obesity disproportionately impacts poor families who can afford only cheap, processed foods. Thankfully, a number of organizations, like London Food Bank and Community Harvest Ontario, are helping low-income children gain access to healthy foods.

Click here to read the full article.


The Hunger Shames: Schools Can Set Children on Lifetime Path of Healthy Eating

Pin It

Check out our latest op-ed about school meals and student health, published in The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Indiana gets a bad grade for childhood obesity and malnutrition. In 2011, 15 percent of Indiana high school students were considered obese, meaning their body mass index was at or above the 95th percentile. Fortunately, schools can play a key role to reverse this trend and reinforce healthy eating behaviors. By emphasizing hands-on nutrition education, such as school garden projects and classroom cooking demonstrations, and by providing fresh, local fruits and vegetables in cafeterias, schools can encourage students to improve their diets.

Read the full article here.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.


At Back-to-School Time, Let’s Press for Healthy Eating

Pin It

Check out our latest op-ed about improving school meals and students’ eating habits, published in The Montreal Gazette. The Gazette is the largest English language daily in the province of Quebec, and has a weekly print circulation of 1,094,653.

It’s almost time for kids to go back to school. But for many children in Montreal, this means a return to unhealthy school lunches that jeopardize their health and well-being. Schools can play a key role in reversing this trend and reinforcing healthy eating behaviors.

Read the full article here.

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE.