November 2023 Newsletter – Connecting with Foods from Around the World: The Value of Honoring Diversity

The Value of Honoring Diversity

Each of us is raised within a cultural environment that includes a range of visible and invisible features and influences.  Visible influences include things like the clothing we wear, the music we listen to, the food we eat, and the language we speak.  Less visible elements of a culture include things like values, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions.  It can be helpful to understand culture when it is represented as an iceberg, with the visible influences showing above the waterline and the less visible influences falling below the waterline.

Being culturally responsive means that educators:

  • Understand that everyone has different cultural variables, both visible and invisible.
  • Value these differences and see them as an asset.
  • Seek to understand how cultural elements influence their work.
  • Learn about different cultures at both the visible and invisible levels.
  • Respond to individuals in a manner that honors these cultural variables.

Exploring foods from different cultures is a great example of a practical way to bring cultural awareness and responsiveness into your program environment.  The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) has created a field guide that schools can use to evaluate their level of cultural responsiveness to meet the needs of students, families, and staff. The resource encourages schools/programs to reflect on everything from team makeup and professional development to discipline policies and teaching expectations.

In the section related to Classroom Procedures, the field guide states:

Classroom teachers ensure that all students in the class can see their lives, histories, cultures, and home languages incorporated into the classroom environment, curricula, and instructional practices on a daily basis.

One way to do this is to incorporate meals and snacks that reflect the different cultures represented in your enrolled population.  This is an example of exploring one of the visible aspects of a culture.  Programs can dig deeper into the less visible aspects of culture by asking families to share stories and traditions that accompany the recipes.  Reading a variety of books from different cultures is another way to learn about the values and lessons that are often tied to preparing and sharing food.

Here is another resource from the USDA that describes ways to represent different cultures in your program’s meals and snacks.

 

For the main article Connecting with Foods from Around the World, CLICK HERE

For the article Exploring a Variety of Foods, CLICK HERE

For the article Cooking with Children, CLICK HERE

For the article Integrating New Recipes and Practices, CLICK HERE