Food Skills Expert

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Are you interested in joining a Food Skills Network?

Food Skills Network Group
Many researchers, health professionals including community nutritionists and nurse educators as well as teachers have contacted me about a reliable food skills evaluation tool. 
There are many food skills experts out there! It has been great to exchange updates, resources and information to progress our understadning of this important area.
Please let me know if you are interested in joining in on the fun- contact me for more information.

Community Nutrition in Canada
Over the last few months I have had made several new contacts from Community Nutritionists and Nurses working with people in community programs in Canada. 
There has been a great deal of activity mostly in response to these health professionals searching for tools to support their community programs.

Tracy, a community nutritionist in Vancouver

I have been a Community Nutritionist working at the Vancouver Island Health Authority in Victoria, British Columbia for 7 years now, and have worked on primarily individual and community food security related projects within the region.  

Recently, we have seen an increased interest and call from the community to develop individual & household food skills, and have been working on some proposals that would work to enhance and develop the food skills of the community as a whole (Community Food Skills).   I had been searching online for a working definition of food skills as well as a validated tool that would be a summary measure or indicator of food skills – this led me to you.  Your response has come at an opportune time, and I would very much like to take a look at your “Food Skills Rating Checklist” and discuss a variety of potential community settings that we could apply this tool.  

I have attached a very rough concept of a “Food Skills Continuum” that I have developed for a recent food skills project.  I would be very interested in talking with you not only about your Checklist but also if you have a working definition of “Individual and Community Food Skills” and how community nutrition educators can work to move individuals through the continuum - I think that this is really missing in the literature as well.  

Lydia, a researcher and a community nurse who is currently working on her Masters is about to release a community food skills tool of her own which may be more applicable to those of you looking for an evaluation tool specific to community, rather than a school setting.

 My study actually created a valid and reliable tool to assess the food skills in a community.  I used the Ministry of Health Promotion of Ontario's definition of food skills which was also later used in a literature review associated with Health Canada.  Here is a link to that definition:

It is on page 36.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Upcoming Conferences and Meetings

HEIA's 20th Birthday Celebrations in Canberra 4-5 April 2014

Hot on the heels of HEIA's successful bid to have home economics included in the Australian curriculum, the team from HEIA are hosting their 20th birthday celebrations in Canberra.  Visit HEIA's new web site to find out more.

International Congress of Dietitics in Sydney September 2012

Click here for the link 

Helen Vidgen (Food Literacy expert) from Brisbane, Queensland has organised a symposium for Thursday 6th September titled


Food Literacy: The role of dietitians in developing food knowledge skills

Presenters: Helen Vidgen, Andrea Begley, Sandra Fordyce Voorham, Rie Imoto, Danielle Gallegos
“Food literacy” is an emerging term used to describe the ability to understand the nature of food and how it is important. It also describes the knowledge and skills to gather, process, analyse and act upon information about food and to apply it in different contexts. This symposium will provide an overview of three key Australian studies which examine practical approaches to the improvement of food literacy in education settings and in public health nutrition and dietetic practice. It will hear from the experiences of the United Kingdom and Japan in endeavouring to address the practical implications of meeting nutrition guidelines.

2.00 –
Danielle Gallegos
Food literacy: what is it and how does it relate to nutrition
2.05 –
Helen Vidgen
Food skills: what are they and how do they inform the development of a food skills-based curriculum in Australian schools
2.20 –

Sandra Fordyce-Voorham

The role of dieticians in using cooking skill interventions
2.35 –
Andrea Begley
The UK experience: lessons from 20 years of promoting food literacy
Prof Martin Caraher
What is Shokuiku?
Prof Rie Imoto
Panel discussion and questions from the floor
3.30 –
Dr Danielle Gallegos

Presenter Abstracts:
Food literacy: what is it and how does it relate to nutrition: This presentation will examine the meaning of food literacy, it components and present a theoretical framework of the relationship between food literacy and nutrition.  The presentation is informed by the results of a series of studies including a Delphi of food experts from diverse sectors and settings and a phenomenological study of consumers; using the case study of disadvantaged young people leaving their parental home for the first time.  The presentation proposes a planning and evaluation framework for food literacy work and discusses where it might sit within broader food and nutrition systems.

Food Skills: what are they and how do they inform the development of a food skills-based curriculum in Australian schools: This presentation will examine the essential food skills that are required to be taught to enable young people to live healthy and independent lives.  These food skills have been identified by interviewing six groups of fifty-one food experts, including independent young people.   The results of a second study involving a quantitative survey of 271 home economics educators within Australia verified the essential food skills that teachers believe ought to be taught in food skills-based programs in Australian secondary schools.  This presentation outlines the attributes of a food-skills based curriculum that works towards improving the healthy eating behaviours of young people. 

The role of dietitians in using cooking skill interventions:  This presentation will critique the use of cooking skill interventions by nutritionists and dietitians in Australian public health nutrition practice drawing on findings from two research projects.  The first project is a quantitative survey of practitioners in Western Australia describing their use of cooking skill interventions in practice funded by Healthway and the second research project is qualitative interventions with practitioners exploring issues in delivery of cooking skill interventions, evaluation challenges and personal training experiences of practitioners in the area of cooking.  The paper will demonstrate the breadth of the use of cooking skill interventions but at the time highlight areas for improvement.

The UK experience: lessons from 20 years of promoting food literacy: The UK experience will set out the historical landscape of public health interest in cooking from the early 1800s. Current experiences related to the Jamie Oliver initiative on schools and cooking will bring the presentation up to date and parallels drawn with the early public health approaches. This latter perspective will be informed by data on changing skill sets in the general community. Two studies on cooking interventions, one in schools, the second in a community setting will help frame the evidence for such interventions. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of the recent policy proposal to introduce compulsory cooking for all 11-14 year olds and the withdrawal of that policy.

What is Shokuiku?: Shokuiku Law as a national movement in Japan:  This presentation will explain Shokuiku Law (Food and Nutrition Education Basic Act) which came into effect in 2005 in Japan.  This Law is a collaboration between Departments of Health, Education and Agriculture and represented a new approach to food and nutrition in schools and communities.  The presentation will also examine strengths and learnings from is approach and propose the role of Shokuiku for the next stage in food education.

Presenter Bios:
Danielle Gallegos is a social dietitian-nutritionist with a strong research and teaching profile at the Queensland University of Technology, she has over 20 years experience in working in the community and public health nutrition setting. Her focus has been on the nexus between translating food into good health outcomes across broad social environments.

Helen Vidgen is a dietitian, nutritionist and home economist with almost 20 years experience working across the health continuum in government, university, private and non-government settings, in urban and regional Australia.  Most recently she has worked as a public health nutritionists and is currently undertaking her PhD in food literacy.

Sandra Fordyce-Voorham is a home economics educator who has taught food skills in schools in Australia and the Netherlands.   She has championed the development of food skills programs in schools in a voluntary capacity in non-government organisations and home economics professional associations at the state, national and international level.   She is currently teaching food skills in an independent K-12 school in Melbourne, Victoria and is undertaking a PhD focusing on the evaluation of food skills-based programs in Australian secondary schools.

Andrea Begley is the Program Leader for Nutrition and Dietetics at Curtin University.  She has over 20 years experience in teaching nutrition and dietetic students and has witnessed a changing relationship between practitioner cooking skills and use of cooking skill interventions in practice.  She is currently completing a DrPH on reconceptualising cooking skills for health.

Martin Caraher is professor of food and health policy at the Centre for Food Policy at City University, London. He has worked on ‘food knowledge’ and cooking skills for over 20 years and is author of some of the key research on issues related to food and cooking in the UK situation. This has involved work on cooking and growing skills in communities and school. His focus is on public health programmes and the role of food literacy as an advocacy tool.

Rie Imoto, Ph.D. (Pedagogy), is a professor of home economics education and environmental education at Department of Health and Nutrition at Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan. She has worked in the development of food literacy curriculum with a particular focus on the environment.  She currently teaches Education students.