Amber Stott, Founder Of Califoria Food Literacy CenterWed 28 Aug 2013
Story by Amber Stott
Amber Stott founded the nonprofit California Food Literacy Center in 2011 to fight childhood obesity by teaching low-income K-5th grade kids to eat smart. Her vision grew from an idea to statewide recognition in only a year.
In 2012, she worked with the California legislature to pass a resolution declaring every September Food Literacy Awareness Month in the state. This work was given a first place public relations award by the Sacramento Public Relations Association for its far-reaching impact on the community.
“I saw a gap in the food system. Our food banks had more fresh produce. Urban farms were exciting new generations of farmers. Yet, we still have two generations of Americans who don’t know how to cook,” said Stott, who has 13 years of nonprofit management experience. “Food literacy education is the solution to inspiring a new generation of healthy food habits.”
The nonprofit’s food literacy curriculum teaches kids how to cook, fruit and vegetable appreciation, nutrition, where food comes from, and more. After only three months in the program 90% of kids say healthy food tastes good. 70% of kids ask their families for the foods they eat in class, like broccoli and celery. The nonprofit reaches 2,400 kids per year.
This work is critical in the fight against childhood obesity. Studies show that low intake of vegetables in childhood is linked to health problems throughout the life span, including allergy, asthma, heart disease and diabetes. By getting kids excited to eat more fruits and veggies, California Food Literacy Center is creating healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Stott also had a vision of building an army of food geniuses equipped to deliver food literacy education far and wide. She created the nonprofit’s Food Literacy Academy to train community members as food literacy teachers. The 10-week intensive training provides instruction in food safety, nutrition, food systems, classroom management, curriculum development and more. Upon completion of the program, certified Food Literacy Advocates commit to 100 annual hours of volunteer food literacy instruction in the community. Twenty advocates have been trained, and the nonprofit will launch another academy in the fall.
Stott’s passion for improving our food system emerged in 2008 when she started the successful food blog Awake at the Whisk and in 2010 started writing for Edible Sacramento Magazine. Today she is also the lead food writer for Sacramento Press. Stott was given the Sacramento Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award in December 2012 for her work founding the nonprofit.
Stott is tireless to improve her community’s system of food education. She chairs the steering committee of the Sacramento Region Food System Collaborative, and will be leading the organization’s food education task force.
“We need to work at all levels of our community to make food education a priority,” said Stott. “We need to work together to move food literacy education into every school.”
California Food Literacy Center is pleased to work with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA) and Food Day to move its Get Food Education in Every School campaign forward in the Sacramento area.
In its first year, California Food Literacy Center raised $40,000. On that meager budget the agency has served 2,400 low-income Sacramento kids. This year, the nonprofit hopes to triple its budget in order to hire its first staff teacher/volunteer coordinator and reach more kids.
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