Awareness about sustainability in the context of nutrition in early childhood

Alaçam, Nur
Şahin, Elvan
Recent agenda in local and global context requires educators to have a closer look at the training programs in terms of integrating sustainability issues. This is a qualitative research study which aimed to explore nutrition and sustainability related awareness of freshmen pre-service early childhood teachers enrolled in the “Maternal and Child Nutrition” course. A total of 37 female pre-service early childhood teachers participated in the current study. A questionnaire which was developed by the researchers was used to collect the data. The responses provided for the open ended questions were analyzed while constituting the themes and categories. We also examined early childhood education program in detail in terms of the key determinants of sustainable food system (MoNE, 2013). In the program, only one objective and a few indicators of it was reached regarding the sustainable eating patterns. This objective required concentrating on adequate and balanced nourishment of children and it was placed under the domain of self-care skills. As indicators of this objective, selecting healthy foods and being careful about eating during the meal times were mentioned. Moreover, farming appeared among the significant places for field trips in the ECE program since it may provide natural and meaningful learning opportunities. A part from these, different learning centers are designed in the early childhood education classroom and as science center ingredients, kitchen tools, legumes, salt, sugar, soda and panel of food pyramid were mentioned. The current context indicated that sustainable eating patterns had a place in early childhood education program in terms of healthy nutrition but it needed to be highlighted and revisited in terms of the interactions among human and natural systems. Regarding the pre-service teachers’ awareness about sustainable food systems, it was found out that more than half of the pre-service teachers couldn’t associate nutrition with sustainability issues. This might be interpreted as their lack of knowledge and awareness about local and global sustainability issues. The underlying reason of this problem might depend on the lack of a touch on this issue in early childhood teacher education program. On the other hand, some of the pre-service teachers could explain the relationship between nutrition habits and sustainability from different perspectives. Some of these are; decreased interest in organic food production and consumption, wasting of foods and damaging environment and energy sources during production of prepared foods. As becoming similar to the expressions of pre-service teachers, sustainability requires to have feelings of concern in food choices in the current time. For instance, when local foods are bought, income is shared with local farmers and this contributes on sustaining their job. Moreover, interest in organic food provides a decrease in consumption of factory farming foods which necessitate energy, include chemicals and pollute environment (Boyle & Long, 2013). The other mentioned expression which is wasting of foods is also a factor on nutrition related sustainability issues (Noakes, 2012). While taking into consideration the pre-service teachers’ unawareness about the linkage between nutrition and sustainability, sustainable food systems could be integrated into the content of the nutrition-related courses in higher education programs.
Citation Formats
N. Alaçam and E. Şahin, “Awareness about sustainability in the context of nutrition in early childhood,” presented at the IX. Uluslararası Eğitim Araştırmaları Kongresi, (11-14 Mayıs 2017), Ordu, Türkiye, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: