Launched in 2017, Food Literacy for All is a community-academic partnership course based at the University of Michigan. Structured as an evening lecture series, Food Literacy for All features different guest speakers each week to address challenges and opportunities of diverse food systems.
Since the course’s inception in 2017 we have engaged over 2,000 community members and videos of course lectures have been viewed over 14,000 times. A total of 581 students from interdisciplinary backgrounds have enrolled in Food Literacy for All for credit, with 178 enrolled students in 2020.
The course engages community members in Ann Arbor and beyond, with almost half (40%) of community participants coming from outside of Ann Arbor in 2020. Such community participation is notable for a University course, and 92% of students surveyed agreed that the participation of community members enhanced their learning.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought equity in our food systems to the forefront of mainstream consciousness, it is notable that themes of food justice and equity were described as the most memorable topics of the course, noted by over half (58%) of those surveyed. Furthermore, 91% of attendees agree or strongly agree that “Food Literacy for All has increased [their] interest in learning more about sustainable food systems” and that they would be “interested in attending future Food Literacy for All classes.”
Students and community members share how the course has impacted them:
“The diversity in speakers and content is incredible, engaging, and welcoming to everyone. Thank you for allowing me the privilege to deeply think about food.”
“It [Food Literacy for All] has inspired me to be more thoughtful with my personal gardening, growing of food, and food production as well as where and what I source when I can’t provide for myself.”
“I hope to go into a career in agriculture because of this course!”
“I truly appreciate the preparation you all have put into making the course a success. The flexibility you all have shown as we moved from the classroom with video to all online was fabulous. You engaged wonderful lecturers and leaders of discussions. You closed the gap between academia and mainstream in a way that demonstrates how important it is to both do and understand and synthesize…Thank you all!”
“I feel the classes I’ve attended over these 4 years have given me a clearer lens to view the current civil unrest through. It also better prepared me for the disruptions in the food supply brought on by local and global reactions to the pandemic.”
“Great course! My whole family enjoyed the speakers and it sparked a lot of dinner table discussion.”
“It has made me more invested in public health and nutrition. I want to be a doctor, but this course has given me perspective into medicine beyond the hospital, and how food plays such a great role in sustenance beyond just a caloric value.”
While COVID-19 is keeping us at home right now, we encourage you to browse our rich archives of four years of incredible videos at the link below.
Food Literacy for All is presented by the UM Sustainable Food Systems Initiative. Since 2017, the course has been supported by the Food Systems Theme in the School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS), the Center for Latin and Caribbean Studies (LACS), the CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund, the Residential College, the School of Public Health’s Department of Nutritional Sciences, the Department of English Language and Literature, the Center for Academic Innovation, and the King•Chávez•Parks Visiting Professors Program.