Fostering an appetite for food literacy

East Sacramento resident Amber Stott, who founded the California Food Literacy Center and partnered with Assemblymember Dickinson to declare September as Food Literacy Month. // Courtesy photo

East Sacramento resident Amber Stott, who founded the California Food Literacy Center and partnered with Assemblymember Dickinson to declare September as Food Literacy Month. // Courtesy photo

The “real food” movement is gaining ground in California with a growing number of farmers’ markets, food access programs and urban gardens. However, until recently, a gap existed. There was a need to help individuals improve their knowledge, mind sets and behaviors toward real food. Local food blogger and East Sacramento resident Amber Stott hopes to cultivate a food literate population through her nonprofit California Food Literacy Center.
With a passion for local, healthy food and 12 years of nonprofit management, Stott, who runs the blog Awake at the Whisk, founded California Food Literacy Center in July 2011. The Center defines food literacy as “understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment and our community.”
“Only 25 percent of Americans eat five servings of fruit and veggies daily, and in California, 38 percent of children are overweight,” Stott said. “There’s an overabundance of food information out there so it’s hard to know where to go. That’s where we come in.”
Growing up in rural Illinois, Stott learned how to garden and cook food from scratch from her grandmother and mother, and continues that tradition in her backyard garden in East Sacramento.
Stott believed she could do much more than blog about the problems of our food system when she created the community outreach and education platform at California Food Literacy Center. Every week, the Center’s volunteers teach 100 kids from low-income families with school lessons from the “Your Sandwich Can Save the World!” curriculum Stott developed with the help of education and nutrition experts. These K-5 graders are learning where their food comes from, what is healthy for their bodies and even how to follow an easy and nutritious recipe. To reach a larger community, the Center’s website provides education about seasonal, healthy foods, and presents accessible recipes using these ingredients.
“We try to reinforce the positive choices people are already making such as using olive oil to cook or eating healthy peanut butter, rather than telling people what not to eat,” Stott said. “Ultimately, we want to make food literacy a fun experience for everyone.”
In just a year, Stott and a team of dedicated volunteers have created a curriculum for K-5 grade, taught 100 kids and measured results, and sponsored a statewide resolution authored by Assemblymember Roger Dickinson proclaiming September as Food Literacy Month. They also created a slew of activities to celebrate the month including a kids’ recipe contest, a food literacy fair at the Oak Park farmers market, restaurant and blogger campaigns, and a launch party for the Center. Stott hopes to expand her curriculum by partnering with additional nonprofits and schools in Sacramento as the organization grows.
“People can join us in our Food Literacy Month activities or donate online to our cause,” Stott said. “Our passion for food literacy propels us forward, but we can do much more with community support.”

For more information about Food Literacy Month activities, or to make a donation, visit California Food Literacy Center’s website: californiafoodliteracy.org.

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