EIT Food supports healthy and sustainable food systems through its Youth Mission programme
EIT Food launches the next phase in its Youth Mission to reach and educate teachers and school children about food education and agrifood careers.
- EIT Food’s initiative targeting teachers and students aged 9–18 years old launched in 2022
- The programme was successfully piloted in 5 countries reaching 382 teachers and 39,354 students
- In 2023, the Youth Mission is going further by involving 3 new pilot countries and further expanding in all target countries
Teachers and young people play a critical role in shaping our future, and it is essential they are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and skills to develop and promote sustainable food systems. In 2022, EIT Food launched its food education programme called Youth Mission, an umbrella initiative to promote healthy and sustainable food choices among young people, and to support them in becoming future agrifood leaders. EIT Food is supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union.
The Youth Mission is gaining new insights into how to deepen learning experiences around food, promote health and sustainability, and motivate future generations to pursue careers in the agri-food sector. The programme focuses on inspiring leadership, conscious consumerism, food science literacy, entrepreneurial mindsets, and vocational possibilities among children aged 9 to 18 years old.
Providing food education learning materials to teachers across Europe
Results so far have been promising, with a team of education experts developing two teacher handbooks full of ready-to-use resources, aimed at the 9–14 and 14–18 age groups. Topics include healthy eating, food science, science communication, sustainability, agrifood careers, and regenerative agriculture. In 2022, the handbooks were piloted in Cyprus, Czechia, Israel, Hungary, and Spain, reaching 382 teachers and 39,354 students.
The lesson plans most frequently selected by teachers revolve around food and foodscape maps, food waste and food loss, understanding food labels, and agrifood careers. Lesson plans incorporate diverse learning experiences, and teachers commented that they appreciated this variety of methods and pedagogies. Some 93% of teachers said their students enjoyed the classes and 80% reported that most of their class actively participated.
Building partnerships to extend food education to more students
This year, EIT Food launched phase two of the Youth Mission. The lesson plans will be piloted in three more countries: Poland, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Additional educational materials will be developed, such as a resource package for events. Youth Mission's focus will be on researching, synthesising, enhancing and testing existing materials. With a strong communication strategy, our goal is to establish the Youth Mission as the place to go to find quality resources for food education, ensuring the project has a lasting impact.
“In the context of waste reduction, our focus should not be limited to food waste alone,” said Fabienne Ruault, Youth Mission project lead . “We have come across numerous quality educational materials that have been created through initiatives around the EU but that are not used after the projects’ end. We aim to ensure that valuable learning resources continue to have relevance even after the completion of projects, with the support of Youth Mission, enabling their sustained impact.”
To strengthen its reputation and dissemination efforts, EIT Food has partnered with several organisations and educational experts in 2023. The partners – already well recognised in their countries – include:
- LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) in the United Kingdom;
- IAR & FR PAS (Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences) in Poland;
- Sabri Ulker Foundation in Turkey;
- AZTI, a non-profit technological research centre in Spain;
- Matis, a biotech R&D company in Iceland;
- and Climate Smart Elephant in Hungary.
Added to this team are two individual education experts from Czechia and Israel respectively.
In the latest programme meeting held in Bilbao on the 7–9 March 2023, participants discussed strategies for making Youth Mission a well-known and trusted food education source for teachers, educational organisations, parents and youth. The primary target audience is teachers, and the programme aims to build and strengthen its educational networks on national and EU levels. During the two-day event, as a team building and experiential element, project partner AZTI hosted participants in their HQ, allowing people to try out two lesson plans from the handbooks about alternative milk production and science communication.
The Youth Mission is an essential step for EIT Food towards supporting educators from all around the world in promoting healthy and sustainable food systems and encouraging young people to become conscious consumers or even the agrifood leaders of tomorrow. EIT Food hopes to inspire youth to take an active role in shaping the future of food and to create a more sustainable and healthier world for all.
About EIT Food
EIT Food is the world’s largest and most dynamic food innovation community. We accelerate innovation to build a future-fit food system that produces healthy and sustainable food for all.
Supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, we invest in projects, organisations and individuals that share our goals and vision for a healthy and sustainable food system. We unlock innovation potential in businesses and universities and create and scale agrifood startups to bring new technologies and products to market. We equip entrepreneurs and professionals with the skills needed to transform the food system and put consumers at the heart of our work, helping build trust by reconnecting them to the origins of their food.
We are one of nine innovation communities established by the European Institute for Innovation & Technology (EIT), an independent EU body set up in 2008 to drive innovation and entrepreneurship across Europe.