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Raising Awareness by Way of Food Rhapsodies

In the age of YouTube and iPads, schools and organizations left and right are reaching out to kids about nutritious food on their own terms: rap videos. From light-hearted, kid-produced raps to lyrics demonstrating the profound dangers of processed foods, these videos entertain AND educate. We’ve compiled a few rap video all-stars for your enjoyment:

“Keep it Fresh (The Real Foods Rap)”- Rappahannock County Farm-to-Table Program

Trista Grigsby, the Food Service Director of Rappahannock Schools, created a small project to engage her students about real food. Not unlike the seeds in her Farm-to-Table program, Grigsby’s project bloomed far past its intended two weeks.

“It started as an after school thing I put together. It was a way for me to promote my program and interact with students,” said Grigsby.

With just a flip cam and a simple prompt, “What does real food mean to you?” Grigsby enlisted her 6th and 7th grade farm-to-table classes to create their own raps. After reviewing the work, Trista knew she was on to something. She contacted the high school in Rappahannock where two students were known for their rap capabilities, and so began a collective undertaking. The community donated specialty services such as a music studio for recording and local farms for setting the scene.

The video premiered in the main entrance of the Rappahannock K-8 school. Grigsby also sent it out to twelve organizations, six of them national. All the responses beamed positivity, and most importantly, the videos were widely enjoyed by Rappahannock students.

“Unjunk Yourself: The PROCESS”- Turn the Tide Foundation

For Turn the Tide Foundation, owning your own health is the name of the game. David Katz, president of the foundation and Associate Professor of Public Health Practice at Yale University, approaches this lesson through curriculum-geared videos. The videos link to suggested readings for classroom instruction, and materials are also provided to guide in-class discussions.

Although many kids helped throughout the production process, Katz’s three children helped write and star in the foundation’s first video, “The PROCESS.” The videos’ goal stems from Katz’s own family’s culture.

“If we don’t smoke, eat well, and get regular exercise, we can enhance our vitality and well-being, and reduce lifetime risk for all chronic disease by an astonishing 80 percent. Kids need to be informed and empowered to take care their heath,” Katz said.

Katz says his foundation has programming for every age group, but young teens are the hardest to reach by conventional means, so he has chosen a medium this age group favors. And favor they do, so much so that Katz is working on the next big project “Taste Bud Rehab.”

“FOOD FIGHT” - Earth Amplified / SOS Juice / New Message Media

Perhaps the most visceral of our all-star picks is “FOOD FIGHT,” a collaborative by Earth Amplified, SOS Juice (System out of our System) and New Message Media. The purpose: teach teens the realities of their food systems.

The plot follows a young boy sent by his mom to a local corner store for groceries. The boy gets caught in the middle of a deadly food fight between the sugary cereal mascots of the corporate food system and the neighborhood that decides to fight for their health.

Artist, advocate and “FOOD FIGHT” producer AshEl Eldridge, also known as Seasunz, believes the analogy between processed foods and the danger of drugs and weapons is necessary in depicting the food crisis our nation faces. Seasunz says the immediacy of the issue needs to be amplified; otherwise kids will not accept the long-term effects.

Diet-related deaths in the US surpass all other leading causes of death. When Seasunz’s grandmother passed away from diabetes, he started learning more about the disease and other diet-related illnesses. This inspired him to spark change. “FOOD FIGHT” acts as a tool to empower the youth in Seasunz’s community. The video is accompanied by curriculum created by high school teacher Vanessa Carter. Reactions have poured in.

“The moms are the most inspiring, said Seasunz, “They have the most at stake.”

Learn more about these great initiatives here:

· Rappahannnock Farm-to-Table Program

· Turn the Tide Foundation

· Earth Amplified / SOS Juice


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