Learning in lockdown: Using the COVID-19 crisis to teach children about food and climate change

A Kluczkovski, R Lait, C A Martins, C Reynolds* (Corresponding Author), P Smith, Z Woffenden, J Lynch, A Frankowska, F Harris, D Johnson, J C G Halford, J Cook, J Tereza da Silva, X Schmidt Rivera, J L Huppert, M Lord, J Mclaughlin, S Bridle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Food systems are significant sources of global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE). Since emission intensity varies greatly between different foods, changing food choices towards those with lower GHGE could make an important contribution to mitigating climate change. Public engagement events offer an opportunity to communicate these multifaceted issues and raise awareness about the climate change impact of food choices. An interdisciplinary team of researchers was preparing food and climate change educational activities for summer 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown disrupted these plans. In this paper, we report on shifting these events online over the month of June 2020. We discuss what we did and the reception to our online programme. We then reflect on and highlight issues that arose. These relate to: (1) the power dynamics of children, diet and climate change; (2) mental health, diet and COVID-19; (3) engaging the wider science, agriculture and food communities; (4) the benefits of being unfunded and the homemade nature of this programme; (5) the food system, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) and diversity; and (6) how our work fits into our ongoing journey of food and climate change education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-215
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition Bulletin
Issue number2
Early online date26 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

This research and public engagement activity was funded through multiple research grants and with the help of a wide group of people. We are extremely grateful for support as follows:
N8 Agrifood‐funded projects Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open‐source Toolkit (GGDOT) hacknights.
The University of Manchester for funding the development of the Climate Food Flashcards.
Development of the Take a Bite out of Climate Change stand and the ‘Climate Food Challenge’ video game, as well as attendance at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and the Bluedot festival in July 2019 was supported by funding from the STFC Food Network+ and the HEFCE Catalyst‐funded N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme, matched funding from the N8 group of universities and additional funding from the University of Manchester (including the Manchester Environmental Research Institute). This project arose from the N8 AgriFood‐funded project Greenhouse Gas and Dietary choices Open‐source Toolkit (GGDOT) hacknights. Part of this work was supported by the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund award [204796/Z/16/Z].
During the organisation of this research, the running of the events and the writing of the evaluation paper, Sarah Bridle and Christian Reynolds were supported in‐part though the STFC GCRF funded project Trends in greenhouse gas emissions from Brazilian foods using GGDOT (ST/S003320/1). Dr Christian Reynolds received additional funding from NERC to support an Innovation Placement at the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP; Grant Ref: NE/R007160/1). Dr Alana Kluczkovski and Dr Carla Adriano Martins were supported through a University of Manchester GCRF Fellowship funded through the University of Manchester internal Research England GCRF QR Fund. Dr Ximena Schmidt Rivera was supported through Brunel University internal Research England GCRF QR Fund. Thanks to collaborating researchers from major UK programmes such as the Global Food Security Programme, Met Office, Scottish Climate Change Centre of Expertise (ClimateXChange), Society for the Environment, industry and universities across the UK.
The GGDOT project is grateful to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey for the nutrition data used in the Climate Food Flashcards and to the Water Footprint Network for the water use numbers.
We are grateful to the Wellcome Trust‐funded Livestock, Environment and People (LEAP) project for printing and showcasing a preliminary version of the Climate Food Flashcards at their conference in 2018.
We thank the Take a Bite out of Climate Change Advisory Board for advice and ideas that shaped the exhibit. We are grateful to The Take a Bite out of Climate Change Expert Communicators team for helping develop our exhibit activities, engaging with the public and helping to get survey responses at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition 2019 and the Bluedot 2019 festival. Full details of the people involved in these groups can be found on our Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition Page https://www.takeabitecc.org/royal‐society‐summer‐science‐exhibition.html.
The Climate Food Challenge was developed by Dr Andrew Markwick (University of Manchester) in collaboration with Strangely Retro Games (http://strangelyretro.games/), using a subset of the GHGE data set developed for the Climate Food Flashcards.
We would like to thank the N8 AgriFood Secretariat for all of their help with arranging funding, organisation, ideas, social media and event support for the RSSSE (Lynne Borthwick, Laura Knowlson, Caroline Wilcock, Belinda Morris, Anthonia James and Marianna Ventouratou‐Morys). We are grateful to the freelance artist Rachael Hand for help developing the proposal and ideas for the RSSSE exhibit.
We would like to thank Hartland Design and Ken Boyd Design for their help designing and building the exhibit backdrops used at various outreach events.


  • climate change
  • education
  • food


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