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Office of School and Community Partnerships
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

Resources for Schools and Teachers

KATIE DELAVAUGHN will always remember her first encounter with an Albanian Byrek.

The 29-year-old field study teacher is familiar with a range of Latino and African-American cooking, but this particular stuffed pastry was a new fast-food experience for her.

The Byrek was one of numerous traditional foods on offer at a health fair held by seventh graders at Bronx Green Middle School.

Vivia Thompson, 12, compared the fat content of her homemade Jamaica Cake with that of fried chicken. Franklin Castanon, 12, whose family owns a restaurant, served home-made oven fries and talked about the different ways of cooking potatoes.

The fair was part of a curriculum called LiFE, designed by TC researchers and available at no cost to all New York City upper-elementary and middle schools. The series addresses the interplay of biology, personal behavior, the food system, and the technological environment. Students work as food scientists to explore everything from how to grow and cook vegetables with nutritional value, to human body systems and social trends in food and activity choices.

LiFE consultants provide teachers with a choice of curricula and materials and then visit the school to help in their implementation.

DelaVaughn says: “It is a great resource for engaging the students that is culturally relevant to their lives and brings in their background knowledge.”

LiFE currently works in six NYC schools, mainly in grades 3-7. For more information, call: (212) 678-3001, or visit:

LiFE Director, Pamela Koch with the LiFE display at TC's Student Outreach Showcase

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