To broaden nutrition students’ knowledge and skills in food systems, coursework that includes experiential learning in food and farming, including internships, apprenticeships and fellowships, are needed. However, to develop these courses, community partnerships have to be established that allow students to work in the city (e.g., on campus or community farms, at farmer’s markets, and in campus kitchens) and the countryside (e.g., on production working farms, in food hubs, and processing facilities), so they become part of the food system and understand the link between healthy consumption and sustainable production. Just like the “Flying Carrots”, nutrition professionals can be change agents if they receive opportunities that help broaden their understanding of food in the context of socio-cultural, agricultural, ethical, and ecological contexts. In addition, it is critical that students’ practical experiences in community health settings integrate the local food system and its farmers in the development of programs and services, so they are rich in transformative experiences through food literacy and have the potential to lead to food citizenship, while covertly regenerating healthy, prosperous and sustainable communities.
Changing the food culture on college campuses is challenging yet prosperous, considering its enormous potential for academic integration and co-curricular programming that facilitates students’ farm and food experiences, food access, and complementary education, especially in nutrition sciences and dietetics. In addition, creating hybrid positions for academic professionals who can lead student initiatives, such as SWELL, offer emerging opportunities for trans-disciplinary and community-based research and outreach. Thus, institutions should consider leveraging their food service with a campus farm as living learning laboratory and develop partnerships in food and farming that support the campus food system, faculty engagement, student success, and the viability and sustainability of the surrounding food producing region.
Finally, the field of nutrition sciences never falls short of paradigm shifts and staying up to date is not an easy task for its professionals. Today’s problems, however, in production and consumption of food, require systems thinking and accordingly, collaboration across disciplines, learning with both “heads and hands”, and not forgetting that food is sacred.