Changing the culture and perception of what food means to everyone let alone students and children can be a difficult road – a road that was widely marketed and initiated by the Jaime Oliver project. But what we didn’t see from his project was how to properly engage students in the process or if the project had an open working relationships with the students to encourage them to choose what’s best instead of showing them what’s best. That, in all its essence, is the difference with the My Food My Way project as it is about actively engaging kids and emphasizing interactivity.
My Food My Way launched today in Toronto spearheaded by Local 4400 of CUPE and the Toronto District School Board as part of the Healthy Living Healthy Learning nutritional education program by using a fresh approach to encourage healthy thinking. “Our approach is not to tell young people what to eat. We want to educate and empower them so that they can make healthy decisions on their own,” said Local 4400 president John Weatherup.
While many healthy eating projects go about telling kids what to do, My Food My Way works with them in every aspect of the program because it’s students that are the ambassadors of the brand. When a project undertakes to share a voice of its audience and actively involve them to help choose project directions – change can happen. My Food My Way works to redefine the culture of food in homes, schools, and communities with an open-forum for a positive exchange of ideas about food.
We were lucky enough to meet with Ahmad Ktaech, Managing Director of K&Co, the branding and marketing firm behind the initiative and he told us: “Kids are smart. We want to give them the chance to voice their opinions and take an active role in this campaign,” This was so important that K&Co. worked with local students to identify and collect copy, photography, ideas and opinions to deliver a campaign that truly is a students voice and their real faces. For Ahmad, My Food My Way isn’t just a campaign, but as a father, it’s a way for him to pave a path for a healthier school system in Toronto while working hand-in-hand with students of today.
My Food My Way is a five-year program with the goal to change the lifestyle of students, families, and seniors so that they are food literate and adopt healthy and nutritious eating habits. In year one the project is starting with students and schools to launch the conversation on how food choices are evaluated instead of stating what their food choices should be. K&Co. is taking a more technological approach to bring this conversation to local communities by leveraging Facebook and QRCode print campaigns. The project wants to be available where students interact and by finding technologically inventive ways to engage, the program will have a stronger chance to succeed through interaction.
The campaign has already garnered support from celebrated chef and restaurateur Susur Lee who will lead teaching kitchens in selected Toronto schools. The renowned chef will give lessons on tasting, food preparation, and nutrition in order to transform the way students experience food. Susur Lee, as a father himself, understands the importance of getting kids to eat healthy, saying, “I imagined my own kids thinking this was a cool idea.” Susur will also be playing a role in student cooking competitions, with winning dishes making its way into school cafeteria menus.
Eating healthy isn’t what we should do, but a choice we should want to make. My Food My Way is on a mission to accomplish just that and is starting with students in Toronto. With the voice of students and tech platforms that students already use My Food My Way is taking the first steps in beginning the conversation on making healthy eating choices. Join the conversation on My Food My Way’s Facebook page.