PHA Innovation Challenge: Healthy Food Curriculum

Posted on Mar 3, 2014 in Conferences, Events

The Partnership for A Healthier America Innovation Challenge is fast approaching, and we’d like to give you some insight into the challenges we’ll be tackling over the course of the weekend on the issue of Childhood Obesity.

The Challenge: Childhood Obesity
The first area we’re focusing on in the challenge of childhood obesity has to do with the food experience children have during their school days, which often accounts for 2/3 of their daily nutritional intake. Additionally, the school is where food culture is socialized through peer interaction; cafeteria choices; nutrition and health classes; and examples set by counselors, teachers, coaches, and staff. The school day offers a major opportunity for educating kids about appropriate food choices and how to form healthy habits.

Information about food can be made available in a variety of different contexts during the school day. Some of these touch-points include, but are not limited to*:

  • Cafeteria
  • Classes
  • Counseling/Advisement Sessions
  • Sports, Clubs, and After-School Activities

*Additional touch-points will vary by school/district/state.

The Opportunity
These educational touch-points are sorely underused, so PHA is challenging participants to create a comprehensive educational program that taps into these avenues.

Some core questions to consider prior to the event:

  1. How can we help teachers/staff make the entire school day healthier?
  2. What role can technology play in creating a continuous healthy experience throughout the school day with contiguous transitions between individual classes/activities?
  3. How does a practice become a normalized part of culture? How can we design with this in mind?
  4. How can we infuse information about nutrition into the already existing curriculum in an exciting and fun way?

Building within the already existing frameworks of education in the US is key to successful implementation, as many schools – especially those in underprivileged areas – do not have the funding, resources, staff, or bandwidth to implement large, costly changes. Keep the end user in mind at all times.

Example Solutions

  • A digitally interactive program for 3rd graders that combines grocery shopping with lessons on healthy eating.
  • A role-playing game for middle school students where XP and leveling up are gained through accrual and appropriate usage of healthy food items.
  • A mobile app that combines individualized nutrition programs and quantified self data metrics with counselor oversight.

While not all schools will be able to adopt accredited versions of these potential solutions, we would like to build with the purpose of a half-credit elective available as an option.

Contextualizing Data and Resources
In order to be prepared for the weekend, we recommend that participants do some (light!) background research on causes and resources available. The list below contains data and current applications that can potentially be forked for use in creating solution curricula.

Happy hacking, and see you all in DC next week!