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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Sustainability through food literacy in early childhood education and care institutions

Alternative title: Bærekraft gjennom matkunnskap i barnehagen

Awarded: NOK 10.0 mill.

The project FOOD4kids aims at improving knowledge about food and its impact on both our health and the natural environment, with special focus on kindergartens. The project is a cooperation between research institutions from Norway (Queen Maud University College for Early Childhood Education and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Sweden (Dalarna University) and Italy (Bari University). These institutions will work in close cooperation with the kindergarten chain Trondhjems Asylselskap (which includes ten kindergartens) and with Credo Food Culture Centre for Children (Trondheim). Credo is an educational centre in Trondheim (Norway), where children can experience preparing sustainable and healthy food side-by-side with professional chefs and highly trained educators. We will collect data by means of questionnaires and interviews from the staff and the children in kindergartens to gain insights about their experience with food and sustainability. We will then calculate the total carbon emissions associated with the different food items that are the bulk of children’s diet in kindergartens. This type of analysis is also known as Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) and it will allow us to develop a user-friendly app to quickly assess the health and environmental impact of food items, customized for kindergartens. The interview data, together with data from literature, will be used to 1) investigate and compare food choices in kindergartens in three European countries (Norway, Sweden and Itay) and 2) investigate young children’s knowledge about sustainability issues and how food-webs function in nature. Finally, we will develop and test pedagogic tools and activities that are effective in educating for sustainability and health. Findings from this project will be implemented in the teaching of future kindergarten teachers and will contribute to a better understanding of sustainability and how to introduce this topic to kindergarten children.

FOOD4kids is bringing together research institutions from Norway (QMUC and NTNU), Sweden (Dalarna University) and Italy (Bari University) to develop educational activities and tools aiming at improving food literacy in Early Childhood Education and Care Institutions (ECECIs). The research institutions will work in close cooperation with the ECEC chain Trondhjems Asylselskap (including ten ECECIs) and with Geitmyra Credo Food Culture Centre for Children (Trondheim). This is an educational centre in Trondheim (Norway), where children can experience preparing sustainable and healthy food side-by-side with professional chefs and highly trained educators. The project will use a multidisciplinary approach to gain knowledge about how ECECIs can reduce their carbon footprint, mitigate biodiversity loss and promote health. We will collect data by means of questionnaires and interviews from the staff and the children in ECECIs, and, perform a Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) of the food items that are the bulk of children’s diet in ECECIs. This will allow us to develop a research based, easy to use, free of charge digital tool to assess the health and environmental impact of food items, customized for ECECIs, which will be the main outcome of the project. The interview data will be analysed by both quantitative and qualitative methods to 1) investigate and contrast food choices in ECECIs in three European countries and 2) investigate young children’s knowledge about sustainability issues and natural food webs. Finally, we will develop and test pedagogic tools and activities that are effective in educating for sustainability and health. Findings from this project will be implemented in the teaching of future ECEC teachers and will contribute to a better understanding of sustainability and how to introduce this topic to kindergarten children.

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Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren