During the Fall 2013 semester, we – a group of undergraduate students in LIB322: “Wicked Problems of Sustainability” – were challenged to ameliorate the ‘wicked problem’ of school lunches served in the Grand Valley State University’s magnet charter schools. We were faced with children’s unhealthy choices and school budgetary restrictions, a road involving extensive research and seemingly continuous problem solving. We discussed the issue-at-hand with several stakeholders who are involved with children, nutrition, school lunch programs as well as local garden/farming programs. After consolidating our core values, reviewing thorough research, and integrating informative input from our stakeholders, we formulized the following project proposal. We propose to establish an interactive club where students from all backgrounds at local schools (grades 6-8) can get a fresh look at food, nutrition and farming. The Fresh Start Club will have children gather at the Grand Valley State University Sustainable Agriculture Program (SAP) where they will (1) gain awareness of the importance of local, fresh and sustainably grown produce, and (2) be inspired to learn about and choose healthy lifestyles. The Club will thus teach them how their eating habits affect the environment, their health and their society. We suggest the club focus on a different topic each meeting. Topics could range from: farming strategies and planting, soil science, composting, the significance of local vs. imported food, cooking and taste-testing demonstrations focused on nutritional value, as well as the building of patio gardens (so they may have fresh foods at home). The club inspires to be educational while being interactive and fun for the children. At the end of each semester, a culminating event will be held where the children will (1) demonstrate their fresh new facts and skills to fellow classmates, family, and community members and (2) receive an award of completion. We believe that a hands-on approach partnered with an engaging educational experience focused on working with children is a good starting point in our attempt to tackle this particular wicked problem.
Bell, Evan; Damon, Ross; Eardley, Dana; and Siemen, Jessica, "Fresh Start: Inspiring our Youth with Knowledge, Experience, Access to Farming, Local Foods, and Life Skills for Healthy and Sustainable Living" (2013). LIB 322: Wicked Problems of Sustainability. 1.