Empowering Future Generations through Food


Matthew Aubourg, Rachel Wittmer

We are studying the relationship between food sustainability and security and how best to educate this concept to students at a young age. We plan to research the environmental effects of food waste and the agriculture system, and with our advisors’ help present that data to young students to provide them with an encompassing view of food sustainability. Also, we will perform research on food security and deserts in urban U.S. communities, and assess the difficulty of lower-income families in accessing fresh, affordable, healthy food options. 

Our goal is to create a lesson plan based on our findings directed at a late elementary school/early middle school demographic, that teaches these two concepts of food sustainability and food security. The entire unit will consist of at least 3 lessons (90 minutes each) and will end with a field trip to a local food rescue facility (2-3 hour-long field trip). The lesson plan will be directed at a late elementary school/early middle school demographic (4th-6th graders). The majority of these lessons will be taught by the teacher, and the final lesson will be executed during the students’ field trip and ideally led by an employee at the food rescue facility.

One of our advisors, Dr. Brian Collier, has already helped us arrange to implement our lesson plan this year with a 4th grade class in St. Paul, MN taught by Katie Ward, an ACE teacher. Ms. Ward attended Notre Dame and is extremely willing to support our project and implementation in her classroom. The lesson plan will end with students taking a field trip to The Sheridan Story, a local food rescue facility, to pack food and learn about the organization’s mission. Implementing our lesson plan with Ms. Ward’s class this year will serve as a test-drive for other schools and food rescue programs, like Cultivate Culinary. With the help of our advisors, we hope to publish our lesson plan for other schools to implement with other food rescue programs.

In our understanding of food rescue organizations’ role in minimizing food waste, we will be working with Cultivate Food Rescue in South Bend, IN. Cultivate partners with the St. Joseph school system for distribution of rescued food packages. Shortly, they plan to fortify this relationship by implementing a short curriculum and field trip, which will take direct inspiration from our project. We will be creating a presentation that outlines the lesson plan and how it can be incorporated into current curricula. A part of our work with Cultivate will also entail analyzing their environmental footprint and food rescue contributions.