NMEP Powers Youth Programming


Summer is a busy time for No More Empty Pots as we embark on adventures with youth programming. From youth to teens, NMEP provides engaging and educational activities about healthy food, local food system, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), career exploration and teamwork. Here are just a few things Omaha’s youth have been up to so far.

Northwest High School & (IoT) + Food Systems

This May, Northwest High School’s Advanced Science class was introduced to an Internet of Things (IoT) + Food Systems program funded by CISCO through hands-on activities with technology and visits from local innovators. Learners were exposed the IoT and the concepts of connectedness, conductivity and innovation. Activities included innovation from sticky notes, repurposing recovered food and inventing with Makey Makey devices.

Click here to learn more about (IoT) + Food Systems at Northwest.

Northstar (IoT) + Food Systems & Cooking Demonstration

Over 100 Northstar students from 6th grade through 9th grade are engaging in a four session series focused on cooking and innovation. Over the four sessions, students will work with Sarah Bleich, NMEP Food Hub Manager, to learn basic culinary skills to make simple meals that they can replicate at home. Some of the menu items include soup, pasta, breakfast tacos, potato pancakes, pizza, wontons and more. Although it may have seemed difficult and intimidating at first, the students learned that they can have fun cooking! In addition to making tasty food, the students are also engaging in STEM activities where Audrey Woita, NMEP Project Leader, teaches students how to use connected devices of the Internet of Things (IoT) with the local food system. Students use teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving skills to think about solutions for food deserts and how to utilize donated and expired foods in ways that can still provide nutrition.  The curriculum also includes group sorting activities, small group discussions and large group experimentation with electronic tool kits. To give students an example of real-life innovation, Walker Aker, an expert UNO PhD student, made a visit to explain how he creates inexpensive prosthetics for children.

Fontenelle Project Localize Cooking Demonstration

It’s always rewarding to see youth excited about fresh vegetables! That was the case this month when No More Empty Pots Director of Culinary Operations, Bryce Coulton, visited Ms. Vickery’s 4th grade class at Fontenelle Elementary. There, the students participate in Project Localize of Omaha, an educational program that helps classrooms identify and promote sustainable economic, cultural and social progress in their communities.

In this lesson, the class focused on beets. The students are growing beets in their school garden at Fontenelle Elementary, positioned just outside Ms. Vickery’s classroom. Beets are a true superhero and have many benefits including supporting brain health, reducing inflammation, anti-cancer properties and weight maintenance. The kids worked in groups to complete a simple recipe for pickled beets using their new desktop kitchen provided through Project Localize in Omaha supported by the Sherwood Foundation.

Click here to learn more about Project Localize.


STEP-UP Omaha is a local program of the Empowerment Network for youth between the ages of 14 and 21. The program exposes them to community service, work experience, internships and job training opportunities. For two weeks in July, STEP-UP Omaha participants will once again join No More Empty Pots staff and volunteers for an educational, hands-on adventure!

This summer, participants will engage in hands-on team activities in culinary arts, horticulture and technology through the Internet of Things (IoT). During these breakout sessions, the teens will learn about where food comes from, how to grow it and prepare it. They will get an opportunity to explore different foods and expand their palates. In addition to working with food, the groups will also get to invent using Makey Makey boards in the IoT sessions to learn how to use tech to solve real world community food system issues.

The two week program will also cover career exploration, experience mindfulness with the Mindfulness Outreach Initiative and review financial planning with Wells Fargo at Work.

Click here to read a recap of last year’s program and watch the video of the teens’ experience. 

(source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-beets)

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