The Conscious Kitchen Ambassadors program educates, activates and elevates elementary and middle school students as key participants in transforming school food systems. These young leaders expand their knowledge about health, nutrition, meal preparation, and food systems; equity, climate and community impacts; and the importance of fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious, low-waste foods.
Each CK Ambassador class includes a:
- Food-themed lesson on topics ranging organic, compost, waste, food justice, climate and environmental impacts, food traditions, healthy nutrition, seasonality, gardening, and more
- Hands-on activity/training, including cooking and culinary skills, compost workshops, food art projects, food web creation, waste sorting, food service training, planting seeds/starts, and others
- Tasting and offering feedback on new menu items, recipe development, seasonal produce, etc.
The interactive after-school curriculum takes place in kitchens, dining halls and a growing network of school gardens, with opportunities for visits from farmers, chefs and food systems leaders, and in-person/virtual farm visits. Learnings relate directly to what is happening in school dining halls on a daily basis, through a framework that gives students agency to offer input, incorporates their questions, feedback and ideas, and progresses with participation of empowered young changemakers.
Student ambassadors gain hands-on experience, transferable skills in culinary arts and food service, and the leadership, change-making and communication abilities needed to rise as informed advocates for health, well-being and food justice, central to Conscious Kitchen’s student-driven model for systems change. Young leaders create resources and campaigns to educate peers and families, support food services teams with dining hall initiatives (like plated-up meals, composting, hydration stations, bulk milk, etc.), and collaborate on specific programs and events, such as Project Breakfast, Project Salad, Project Cereal, and more.
The Ambassadors program markedly increases student ownership, involvement, and active participation in the school meal program, which is critical for lasting success. As is evident via surveys of students, parents and teachers, students grow to understand the importance of incorporating more fresh, local, organic, scratch-cooked offerings and thus benefit from improved health and wellbeing in the short and long term, attendance and academic outcomes.
By working closely with small groups of students (up to 20 per school), we ensure depth of impact for Ambassadors who take learnings back to classrooms, friends, and greater school communities. Students walk away with practical knowledge, relevant skills, advocacy techniques, and understanding of culinary, nutrition and food choices — with clear messages that resonate for themselves, peers, schools and districts.
The Conscious Kitchen team coordinates involvement in the program among students, teachers, schools, food service teams, site leaders, principals, district leadership, families, community members, and partners including organic farmers, purveyors, sustainable food system experts, local business leaders, and chefs. Ambassadors are mentored by Food Systems, Environmental Studies, Public Health, and Nutrition students from UC Berkeley, UCSF, SF State, and other local institutions, as well as school site teacher leads, and the Conscious Kitchen team. These intergenerational mentorship opportunities are coveted by students and professionals alike, who prosper from the experience.
Are you interested in bringing the Conscious Kitchen Ambassadors program to your school? We are here to support with curriculum, PDFs, more!
Our team is currently expanding to add new school sites and would love to speak further. Get in touch with us today at email@example.com!