NEW YORK, May 14, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- GENYOUth, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier school communities, released today the results of Youth & the Future of Food, a nationally representative survey of American teens' views on food and its relationship with the planet.
The GENYOUth Insights survey revealed that while today's youth care strongly about both food and the environment, they don't understand how these two global issues are connected, where their food comes from, or even why it matters. At the same time, the study suggests that the future of food systems and sustainability may be strengthened by increased leadership and engagement from America's teens.
A recently released World Health Organization/UNICEF/Lancet report noted that "sustainability is for and about the next generation – we must find better ways to amplify children's voices and skills for the planet's healthy future."
"Our GENYOUth Insights Survey reveals America's teens don't yet think about or understand the relationship between food and the health of our planet. Yet the good news is that they have a strong desire to connect the food they eat with the world they live in," said Alexis Glick, CEO of GENYOUth. "It's crucial that they have the knowledge to serve as smart stewards in support of a healthy planet and people. GENYOUth is committed to partnering with America's farmers and food manufacturers to help youth understand and appreciate the vital connection between farming, food production and a sustainable and healthy planet."
GENYOUth surveyed over 1,700 teens ages 13 to 18 on a wide range of sustainable-related topics, including the role food plays in their lives, where the food they eat comes from, if and how they connect food to the planet, and who they depend on for clear and trusted information. The results provide an interesting snapshot of the food priorities and paradoxes of this generation, as well as opportunities to help ensure youth can lead, act and choose wisely in today's food environment.
For Teens, Food Sustainability Is Not an Important Everyday Issue
In young peoples' daily lives, sustainability is not nearly as important as more immediate and tangible priorities.
Youth Don't Understand Sustainable Food but Are Hungry for Information
American teens' don't understand the connection between food, nutrition and the environment.
Allies in Education: Who Teens Want to Hear From
To help them understand where their food comes from and the importance of making sustainable food choices, teens are craving guidance from trusted sources.
Hunger is Closely Linked with Sustainable Food
Among sustainable nutrition issues of significance, hunger stands out, both as a condition facing too many teens and as a big concern for most. One in five (21 percent) worry about whether they will have enough to eat on a daily or weekly basis, while four out of five (80 percent) are very concerned about helping feed people who don't have enough to eat. In the COVID-19 era, with tens of millions of food insecure kids at risk due to school disruptions and climbing unemployment figures, hunger will inevitably become an even bigger source of concern.
For today's teens, knowledge is the clearest path to engagement and leadership. As Jimena T., an 11th grader from Texas, said: "If youth have access to information about where their food comes from, they can make educated decisions about the food they eat. One of the most worthwhile things I've done recently was to visit and see how a dairy farm operates. It allowed me to start connecting the dots between what's grown on the land and what's sold in the store. And that's given me a new-found appreciation for food and our planet."
To review "Youth & the Future of Food," including opportunities for taking action, visit https://www.genyouthnow.org/reports.
GENYOUth is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that creates healthier school communities. We convene a network of private and public partners, including Fortune 100 companies and foundations, to raise funds for youth wellness initiatives that give youth the inspiration, motivation and programs to be healthy high-achieving students. GENYOUth's flagship program, Fuel Up to Play 60, enrolls over 73,000 U.S. schools, reaching over 38 million students. Our school nutrition grants increase access to healthy school meals among food insecure students. NFL FLAG-In-School is GENYOUth's fastest growing program with over 20,000+ school communities reaching over 11 million students while AdVenture Capital brings out the entrepreneurial spirit and creativity of students with the support of corporate mentors to solve real world problems. For more information about GENYOUth, visit www.genyouthnow.org.
Online survey conducted February 11 to 28, 2020 with a nationally representative sample of over 1,700 middle, junior, and senior high school students, ages 13-18, including 1,198 youth affiliated with GENYOUth programs and initiatives (e.g., Fuel Up to Play 60 and AdVenture Capital) and 507 youth in a control group. Results were statistically weighted to ensure a representative group by gender, age, race/ethnicity, and geography. An advisory committee of health, education, nutrition, and youth engagement experts and practitioners provided guidance on the research topic, hypothesis, and online survey content. Two waves of student focus groups (conducted by phone conference) were held to inform the survey content and questions. The survey was conducted in counsel with Edelman Intelligence and produced with funding from Midwest Dairy.
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