Teachers College, Columbia University
Program: Healthy Food & Community Change
Area of Work: Health
Grant Purpose: Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy
Teachers College (TC) at Columbia University – the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive graduate school of education in the US – founded the field of nutrition education more than a century ago, and the College continues to set the standard by conducting research that creates evidence-based programs to educate parents, teachers, community members and the public at large on how to change behavior around health and nutrition.
Purpose: To create the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy
The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy (Tisch Food Center) transformed TC’s nutrition education program by advancing new research, and building knowledge about nutrition strategies in both school and community settings. The Center’s work includes:
- Conducting research and evaluations with policy implications;
- Promoting access to and education about healthy, sustainable food through strong policy, programs, and funding;
- Creating and supporting nutrition education in schools and communities;
- Preparing the next generation of food and nutrition leaders.
During the Tisch Food Center’s first seven years, the Center has played an influential role in food policy at the city, state, federal and international level. Projects in New York City and State included the first comprehensive study of publicly supported nutrition education, providing needed data, analysis, and evidence-based recommendations to strengthen nutrition education through policy and strategic investments. The study resulted in a pair of reports, Empowered Eaters, one each on New York State and New York City, on a roadmap for stronger nutrition education policies and programs resources that were published and widely disseminated by the Center. The Center also conducted a study that focused on food and nutrition education in schools. This study produced:
- A is for Apple: The State of Nutrition Education Programs in New York City Schools, a report which describes the landscape of external nutrition education programs in K-12 schools across all five boroughs, and makes recommendations to increase nutrition education access and equity.
- The Nutrition Education Programs in NYC Schools Database, a unique searchable online tool for schools, organizations, funders, and policymakers.
The Center also conducted evaluations of specific school food initiatives including evaluating the scratch cooking pilot in the Bronx during the 2018–19 school year. This produced a report, Cooking Outside the Box: How a Scratch Cooking Pilot in the Bronx is Reshaping Meals In New York City Schools.
Additionally the Center provided expert advice for curricula, helped craft New York City’s new Local Wellness Policy, and advocated successfully to expand public programs such as the State’s Farm to School effort and the City’s free school lunch and breakfast programs. The grant has also funded an endowed directorship, three endowed doctoral scholarships and the Center’s staffing, research projects, colloquia, seminars, Masters Fellows, publications, and other core activities. In July 2019, the Center launched an online professional development course for educators, Teaching Food and Nutrition for All. Over 300 educators completed the course in its first year.