In 1995, a group of educators, chefs, and food professionals created a discovery-based curriculum for elementary school children called Days of Taste®. “It was clear that our children were losing the connection between the land and their food and we needed to do something about it,” explains educator Julia V. Jordan, Days of Taste founder. A four-part experiential curriculum is made available to many New York public school 4th and 5th grade classrooms each fall.
In 2001, the founders of the Days of Taste created Spoons Across America® – a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating children and families on the benefits of good nutrition, healthful eating, and passing along the important traditions of supporting local farmers and sharing meals around the family table. Expanding on the Days of Taste program, Spoons Across America provides programs for elementary and middle school children in the classroom and via community-based organizations and health care institutions. “Children who lack proper nutrition are more susceptible to limited growth, restricted brain development, reduced immune function, and limited cognitive development,” says Jordan. “A Cornell University study showed that children who have had hands-on opportunities to explore and prepare new and nutritious foods, will be more likely to eat in a healthy way,” she says.
The American Institute of Wine & Food (AIWF) adopted the Days of Taste program in 1998 and it became a national AIWF program.
Culinary legend Julia Child was an enthusiastic supporter of Spoons Across America programs from the beginning. She believed it was essential to teach children about the origin and importance of eating fresh locally-grown foods noting, “In this age of fast and frozen foods, we want to teach school children about real food – where it is grown and how it is produced – so they can develop an understanding and appreciation of how good, fresh food is supposed to taste.”
Today, Spoons Across America partners with businesses, professional organizations, and volunteers – farmers, chefs, restaurateurs, and food professionals – across the country to coordinate and sponsor a range of programs for elementary and middle schools, including Farm to Book, Take A Taste with Spoons, Spoons Recipe Days, and The Dinner Party Project.