Healthy Habits Begin in the Classroom
Food is Elementary is a unique and vibrant curriculum introduced into schools and communities that teaches children about food, nutrition, culture, and healthy living by:
Educating children about the relationship between food choices and disease prevention
Encouraging a child's natural curiosity and creativity to be the foundation of learning
Providing children with the life skill of food preparation through hands-on interactive experience
Introducing healthful foods through the traditions and arts of different cultures
Involving families and community in classroom teaching, school meals, gardens, and collaborative projects.
Click to read
by Ariel Demas
Click to read
by Antonia Demas, Dana Kindermann, and David Pimentel
Complementing the School Lunch Program
The National School Lunch Program is the single largest feeding program in the world, with the ability to reach 53 million children every day. These meals are often a child's main source of nourishment, making it crucial that healthy foods are served. Our research demonstrates that hands-on, classroom experience with nutritious foods will promote acceptance of those foods in the breakfast & lunch program. The Food Studies Institute works with food service in order to incorporate plant-based entrees into the school lunch menu and provide students with healthy daily meals. Recipes use healthy commodity foods such as beans and whole grains, which are inexpensive for families and school nutrition providers. The program is designed to involve families and community partners through classroom teaching, school meals, community dinners, gardens, and collaborative mural projects. Respect, tolerance, compassion and other values are reinforced in each lesson.
Reaching the Family and Community
Positive change can begin in the classroom but must extend to the family, home, and community if children are to have the hope for a better future. The Food Studies Institute supports and encourages community initiatives for action and involvement on the part of parents and volunteers.
"This is the most creative, organized, and crucial program I have ever been involved in. What a wonderful thing for our children not only to learn to cook and eat healthy, but to be exposed to so many different cultures. I love it!"
- Parent Volunteer
Integrating the Arts
Food Studies Institute has used food and art projects to demonstrate food and agricultural themes so visual learners will have their learning styles celebrated. We have developed different creative artistic venues to reinforce the abilities of visual learners and to collaborate with artists in the community.
Students in NYC (P.S. 61), painting a post in the school cafeteria of the Three Sisters – Corn, Beans, and Squash from Native American culture. Each of the 4 panels represent a different stage of development from planting the seed to the harvest– see other photos of completed project below which include life under the soil and feeding the soil with organic materials.
Students at P.S. 61, NYC working with artist to paint Native Foods in their Native Lands – a map of the world that shows where foods are indigenous.
Murals portraying traditional agricultural methods from around the world.
Food and Nutrition Murals in a School Cafeteria and Fruit, Veggie & Flower Murals in a School Garden in Baltimore, MD.
"We desperately need this varied program to steer children away from the death-dealing American diet high in meats, dairy fats, and other unsaturated fats toward whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fruits."
—Benjamin Spock, M.D., Pediatrician, author of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care
"Heart disease begins in childhood. I admire the work of Dr. Antonia Demas, who is a pioneer in improving the nutrition of children."
—Dean Ornish, M.D., Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
Author of Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease
"This unique program, created by Dr. Demas, has the potential of changing the health destiny of an entire generation of children. I've seen nothing like this in my 32 years as a pediatrician."
—Charles R. Attwood, M.D., Pediatrician, author of Dr. Attwood's Low-Fat Prescription for Kids