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Food Security: Agriculture, Engineering, and the Art of Food in a Culturally-Relevant Context


Counterpart International, an NGO, partnering with Virginia Tech, has been implementing a USDA-McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program in Senegal. The program promotes nutritional meals for schools and overall health, underlying the value of nutritious food for school feeding programs. To the cereal-based diets, the program introduced mungbean to school feeding programs and the communities across Senegal.   To ensure that mung bean is incorporated into locally available vegetables and fruits, the program developed and shared culturally appropriate recipes.  However, soon after introducing several mung bean-based recipes, we realized that the women, who are preparing the meals for the school feeding programs are in areas with low literacy rates. Through grants from Virginia Tech (Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS) – Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT), we are developing culturally appropriate mung bean recipes that utilize visual images and art (look-and cook). Recognizing that food, like art, defines a community’s cultural identity, we recognize that achieving success in new crop introduction requires a transdisciplinary approach involving researchers and educators from agriculture, engineering, and art.