Literacy, learning and food

Improved literacy becomes a receding goal when a learner’s poor health acts as a barrier to learning. It is hard to learn when you are hungry or when ingredients in the food you have eaten interfere with your thinking. It is difficult to focus when you are in chronic pain or when you are taking medication. It is hard to maintain regular program attendance or to demonstrate a commitment to learning when you are making frequent trips to a doctor’s office or the emergency ward. It is almost impossible for an organization to show funders that their program is viable and effective when learners are out for a week or more at a time as illness moves through their families.

By the end of last year, I was spending about $70 a week on fresh fruit.

That wasn't much per person. I had two dozen learners in three classes spread over 84 sessions - in effect, 80-90 learners each week. Really, it was less than a dollar per person.

But it was $70 a week. This year, my paid hours have gone down, and my volunteer hours (and costs) are going up. So, in a fit of fiscal responsibility, I decided I wouldn't buy fruit this year.

Instead, I would buy some plants and other small decor niceties. I also purchased new mugs, and will continue to ensure we have the makings of tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Among returning learners, there's been no moaning or griping. Only three noted, aloud, with just the lightest of touches, that they missed the fresh fruit. And that was all.

Though, I did notice, at the end of the second week, a steady stream of petrol-chemical, salt & flour candied snacks getting handed about the room.

Which is okay, right?

I mean, I'm not their mother. These are adults and they can eat whatever they want. Right?

I'm not their doctor, either. Their health is their own.

Is there anyone above the age of 12 who hasn't already heard a lecture on the evils of refined sugars and trans-fats?

It's really none of my business. Right?


Stop looking at me like that.


Ginny Hooper said...

There is a workshop being held next week by Dr. Jory that links downs and autism and nutrition - I hope to be able to go.
**via Facebook**

Wendell said...


Found it.

T-J: Dr. Joan Jory will make presentations in Saint John Oct. 13-14 about nutrient needs for individuals afflicted by Autism Spectrum Disorder and Down Syndrome
**via Facebook**

KarenB said...

In our class, there is coffee and tea for a small charge (25 cents) and learners bring their own mug to keep costs down. Occasionally I will bring fresh fruit in season or a loaf or muffins that I've made at home. Others follow suit. They bring in homemade cakes and treats for the class, and yes, some bring fat-and-sugar-laden store bought cookies. I think if you lead by example, bringing fruit when it's on special (when you can afford it), others will eventually catch on. Our classroom treats have become a way for us to connect as a group and share what we can. I do sympathize with your efforts to supply nutritious snacks, though. Last year, during a flurry of nutrition-themed learning activities, I attempted to keep the classroom stocked with healthy snack alternatives. I broke my budget before the time was up and we all missed the good food when the month was over.