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Building Future Food Trade Professionals Impact on Local Food Systems Through Experiential Education

      Objective

      To increase Food Trade students’ current and future impact on utilizing nutritious, local foods within the food trade business.

      Theory, Prior Research, Rationale

      Experiential Learning Theory provided the framework for this programs' focus on engaging students in an immersive experience.

      Description

      Target audience was Food Trade students, Maine Region Ten Technical High School (n = 30). Food Trade students experienced 494 hours/student of food, nutrition and agriculture education. The Local Food Procurement program included: lessons, field trips and experiential activities through the Region 10 Cafe. Lessons included: nutrition, local food systems and sustainability. Field trips to farms to experience the production, harvesting, and storage of vegetables, wild game and grains. Students utilized the information gained to improve existing practices of their cafe to focus on increasing local food procurement. Students planned, prepared and served a meal one day per week for six months at their cafe.

      Evaluation

      Students conducted a Consumer Food Preference Survey of cafe diners to learn more about consumer demand. The survey (n=133) revealed: 77% rated locally grown/produced foods as very important, 98% believe local foods stimulate local economy, 95% believe local foods are fresher, and 85% believe local foods are better for the environment. Students increased the usage of nutritious, local foods on their cafe menu by $2,000, representing a 25% increase of local foods purchased. Analysis of student journals revealed that 100% of students gained knowledge of general nutrition, local foods, procurement and food systems.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Educating tomorrow’s food trade professionals on nutrition and local foods is a vital component towards sustaining an economically viable local food system.

      Funding

      Maine Agriculture in the Classroom

      Supplementary data