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Educated
Choices Program

ECP Team.HEIC
Written by: Lindsay Koser

Our daily food choices are one of the most significant decisions we make. It may seem apparent, but what we select to consume has more impact than just our health, lifespan, and physical appearance. Our dietary choices have broader implications, such as reducing our carbon footprint, and can also contribute to climate change.

 
Food production is a major contributor to the world's greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for a quarter of them. Every phase of food production, from land use to preservation, involves the generation of varying amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. These phases include production tools and equipment, processing, packaging, and transportation.
 
It's important to take into account the impact of food on the environment. The carbon footprint of food varies depending on the animals, plants, and seafood involved, as well as their living conditions. Animal-based foods, such as beef, have a higher carbon footprint due to their resource-intensive nature. They require more land, water, machinery, pesticides, fertilizers, and preservatives than plant-based foods. Therefore, adopting a more plant-based diet can have a positive effect on the environment.
 
Reducing emissions from food production will require a combination of actions, such as diet changes and food waste reduction, just to name a few.
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Educated Choices Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides food-related education, empowering students and community members to recognize the importance and responsibility of making informed decisions about their food, building a healthier, more sustainable future for everyone.

The Solution
 
Imagine if we could provide free and accessible resources to educate people of all ages about the impact of their food choices on the environment. What if we could make science-backed information available online, in classrooms, libraries, and hospitals? And what if we could teach children from a young age about the importance of developing good habits when it comes to food choices?

Educated Choices Program (ECP) is a global education program, established in 2016, that aims to educate and empower people aged 12 and above, to make better food choices that benefit both themselves and the planet. The program is designed to create a healthier and more sustainable food system by providing science-based education through free digital packages, programs, and materials that are available 24/7. ECP's materials support all 50 U.S. academic standards, as well as academic standards in many countries worldwide. To date, more than 3 million individuals across 47 countries have benefitted from the Educated Choices Program's materials.
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The choices that benefit our health tend to be the ones that are more eco-friendly, more sustainable, have a lower carbon footprint, and use fewer resources. When we talk about smart food choices, we’re talking about eating lower on the food chain, more whole foods, less processed foods, less reliance on animal products, and more on plant-based foods.

Lorena Mucke, CEO, President & Founder

​The ECP has recently launched a new resource library due to its global expansion and an increase in demand for its programs. The library is a state-of-the-art platform that houses all of its science-backed and teacher-approved resources. These educational materials include video presentations, activities, lesson plans, quizzes, discussion prompts, and more. In 2024, the library will be expanded to include new presentations on topics such as plant-based nutrition for athletes, plant-based eating and its impact on healthy aging, food waste, conservation, and more.
 
We get to shape the minds of young people and help them get ahead of the curve before they create bad habits that can negatively impact their health and the planet. We get this information to them early enough at a time when it could potentially change the trajectory of their lives and empower them to make positive impacts on society and in their own lives,”  - says Karyn Knox, Chief Development and Partnerships Officer.
 
The Educated Choices Program collaborates with esteemed universities and organizations to ensure that all the information provided is consistently accurate and up-to-date. The organization takes pride in offering factual and impartial information, promoting critical thinking, and encouraging meaningful discussions about the health and environmental implications of food choices.
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The Impact of the Keeling Curve Prize and Constellations Fellowship

In 2020, Karyn Knox, who is the Chief Development and Partnerships Officer, came across the Keeling Curve Prize on social media. She decided to apply for the prize on behalf of ECP. In 2021, ECP was named a Keeling Curve Prize Laureate in the Social & Cultural Pathways category out of hundreds of applicants. As a result, they received $25,000 in funding.
 
When I applied, I didn’t expect it to differ from a grant or a one-time transactional relationship, but we gained a partner in the Global Warming Mitigation Project. It continues to be an incredible experience. GWMP provides opportunities to highlight our work and accomplishments,” says Knox.
 
As a laureate, ECP has access to GWMP's other programs that provide additional resources. Specifically, ECP has taken full advantage of the Constellations Fellowship program. This program connects students and recent graduates to professional opportunities with laureates and finalists. The Fellowship program runs three times a year - in spring, summer, and fall - for a duration of 12-14 weeks. The young people who participate gain real-life, hands-on professional development and career-building skills. At the same time, climate organizations receive qualified workforce support. It's a win-win situation for both parties.
 
Laureates and finalists may request up to three fellows per semester to fill organizational needs. ECP has hosted 17 fellows across six semesters since 2022, working in communications, environmental engagement, education, development, and research. 
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Testimonial

The caliber of young people that the Global Warming Mitigation Project has supplied for us two years is pivotal in helping us create presentations and perform outreach. We have hosted fellows in every department. We’re thrilled to have you walking beside us on this journey. - Karyn Knox

Karyn Knox, Chief Development and Partnership Officer, ECP

Looking to the Future
 

The Educated Choices Program aims to educate individuals about the impact of their food choices on personal and planetary health, striving for global awareness and improved well-being.
 
“Our hope is that food literacy is part of every school in the world. I know it’s a lofty dream, but we’re getting there. As active members of our societies and communities, we should actively participate in making the world a better place. After all, this is our only home. We have to take care of our bodies and the planet, and we can do that by making informed food choices.” - says Lorena Mucke.
 
The Educated Choices Program serves as an exemplary model of how solutions to climate change can emerge from anywhere, even in online classrooms through education. As the organization expands, it intends to develop its educational content to be more inclusive and responsive to diverse groups of people in various regions of the world.

For more resources and to learn more about the Educated Choices Program, visit their website and check out the program library.
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