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Opportunities Guide | Service-Learning Courses

Food Systems Practicum Course

At A Glance

Course DescriptionSample ProjectsCBO RequirementsApplication & Project Dates
A small group of students work with CBO to analyze food systems programsEfficiency and effectiveness recommendations for a food distribution systemProvide an opportunity to engage directly with projects related to food systems. Meet with students periodically for feedback and review

Application period: September - October

Duration: Late October - December

Course Overview

This course (October-December) addresses immediate program and policy needs to advance healthy and sustainable food systems. Students gain in-depth knowledge and observe real-world challenges and opportunities while working in small teams for 5-6 hours a week outside of class. We apply a social equity lens to projects and reflect upon the importance of equity for successful food systems change. The course considers food’s connections to a broad range of public health issues and draws useful lessons from lived experiences so that we can become more effective public health professionals and changemakers. We focus on tools for effecting food systems change, including health education, political advocacy, and media communications.


CBO Partner Expectations

  • Provide an opportunity for up to five graduate students to engage directly with projects related to food systems
  • Work with course instructors to outline the project in detail, including identifying objectives, training methods, how the students will perform the project, desired outcomes, potential pitfalls, and preferred weekdays/times for students to be onsite, if applicable.
  • Provide clear protocols in advance (e.g., training or background check requirements).
  • Meet with students at the beginning and end of the course, and evaluate student performance in the serving-learning project.
  • If appropriate, hold a debriefing meeting where students can present their findings or experiences. We suggest other staff from the organization (who are not the main contact for the project) be invited to this meeting. Note: These presentations are optional for students.
  • Some CBO partners may lecture in the class about tools (e.g., advocacy, health education) they use to effect change.


Project Examples

  • Conduct interviews with a CBO’s organizational partners to understand the perceived benefits and challenges associated with a CBO’s program (e.g., planting fruit and nut trees on their premises)
  • Assist with background research to inform a city- or county-wide plan (e.g., food system resilience plan)
  • Develop a survey that the CBO can use for a needs assessment with community members
  • Conduct a literature review that could then be used to inform a CBO’s advocacy efforts (e.g., improvement to SNAP benefits).
  • Evaluate and suggest improvements to a CBO’s program.