Mission & History

Our Story
The Food Literacy Center came to life in July 2011. With a lifelong career in nonprofit management and a personal passion for improving our food system, founder Amber Stott saw a critical gap: helping individuals improve their knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards real food. As a food writer and blogger, Amber has spent years researching and writing about the need for increased education of our food system. With the help of a supportive community, she decided to merge her personal passion with her professional skills to fill the food literacy need.

The mission was born to create change today for a healthy, sustainable tomorrow through community food education. Amber is joined by community members who make up the center’s board, volunteer committees, and support system. As a growing team, they’ve combined their creative ideas, expertise, and energy around food, health, and social change to improve the community.

Our Mission:
Our mission is to inspire kids to eat their vegetables. We teach low-income elementary children cooking and nutrition to improve our health, community, and environment.

Our Vision:
To promote a food literate population in California. We help Californians understand the story of their food. (See our definition of “food literacy” below.)

Food Literacy [fu: d lit-er-uh-see]
noun: Understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our community.

Why Food Literacy Matters
Did you know that only 25% of Americans eat five servings of fruit and veggies daily? In California, 38% of children are overweight—a rate three times higher than it was 30 years ago, when the obesity epidemic began. Researchers believe we have two generations of Americans who do not know how to cook. Meanwhile, the entire global food chain may account for a third of what’s heating our planet. Our current food system is taking a toll on our health, the environment, our kids and communities.

Who We Serve
Teaching children with our curriculum Your Sandwich Can Save the World! is our primary objective. By educating through local nonprofits and schools, we help kids develop healthy food habits while they are young. Parents are our secondary audience. Our curriculum inspires kids to bring home what they’ve learned to influence the food choices their families make. We also want parents to learn how to cook and make choices that are good for their families and our planet. Whether we’re doing the teaching ourselves—or giving our curriculum away to partners—we want children and low-income families to have access to our lessons.

What We Do
We teach. Financial literacy, learning to read recipes, basic cooking skills, nutrition, and environmental impacts (bees, organic)—these are just some of the lessons in our life-changing curriculum, which is tied to National Education Standards to ensure maximum benefits to the schools we visit.

We feed. By introducing healthy, sustainable snacks and introducing children to new fruits and vegetables with our curriculum, we empower students to explore new foods, feed themselves—and make smart choices.

We share. There is a community and statewide lack of food literacy curriculum, yet a rising demand. During our pilot phase, we seek partners to teach our curriculum, provide feedback on each lesson, and help generate the best model for food literacy education. Once complete, the final product will be available for free on our website.

We train. As demand for food literacy education from schools and nonprofits grows, so does the need for teachers trained to teach. Our Food Genius program provides an intensive 8-week training for community members who are screened through an application process, and asked to commit 100 annual hours of volunteer service to our community, helping bring our curriculum to more schools and nonprofits.

Our Approach
We believe that good food should be fun! We focus on the positive side of food, sharing practical, affordable, and approachable ways to eat well, rather than harping on what foods people should avoid or eliminate. We aim to engage rather than frighten.

Results
We don’t rely on anecdotes to know that our programs are working. We test and measure our programs, using evaluation data to improve as we discover best practices to create lasting change. In our pilot program pre-test, when asked K-1st graders if healthy snacks taste good; 82% of kids said “no.” After 1 month 92% of the kids said “yes.” In the pre-test, 59% of 4-5th grade students believed lettuce contained the most protein when given choices between lettuce, peanuts, and chocolate. After 1 month, 83% understood that peanuts contain the highest amount of protein. Additionally, 75% of children K-5th grade say it matters where their food comes from.

These are just a few of the results from our pilot program with K-5th graders at Capitol Heights Academy.

How YOU Can Help:
Be part of the solution. Contact us to learn about scholarships that bring our curriculum into schools, sponsorship opportunities, and to volunteer: Amber Stott, Founder: amber@foodliteracycenter.org or 916-873-2025.