When Cathy Tisdale attended a conference in Oxford, England, in April of 2015, she wasn’t expecting to return to Kansas City with one of Camp Fire’s most innovative, pioneering programs. However, that’s exactly what happened. In discussion with two filmmakers producing a program for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), Cathy learned of a 10-hour curriculum, being developed in partnership with Columbia University, built around the concept of healthy eating. “If we can’t pronounce it,” shares Cathy, “we shouldn’t be eating it.” In fact, the curriculum, In Defense of Food (IDOF), supports the notion that our diets should consist primarily of plants and not much else. Of course, this is a radical diet departure for most, especially for fast food-consuming middle school youth—the program’s target audience. Introduced to a national audience this past December, the objective of the PBS special was simple: Change behavior through hands-on recognition of good versus bad choices.

IDOF supports and enhances studies and recommendations such as those of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC now recommends a diet filled with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, and moderate in sugar, salt, and saturated fats.

Unfortunately, middle school brains don’t help middle school health. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are more prone to slurp unhealthy junk food and soda pop, because the “pleasure” centers of their brains develop sooner than their ability to calculate long-term consequences. Though they’ll beg for it, programs such as IDOF help these young eaters understand the scientifically founded debilitating effects of junk food chemicals. The objective is to steer the youth toward healthier choices, engraining these choices as lifelong habits.

Camp Fire is proud to be a national delivery partner of this groundbreaking opportunity to impact young Kansas City audiences.