FeedBack is a reflections blog authored by Arrell Scholars and Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance – Food from Thought HQP Scholars on their experiences in the program. Margarita Fontecha is a PhD student in the School of School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and Zahra Saghafi is a PhD student in Food Science.
Every minute 4,146,600 users are watching YouTube videos and 46,740 photos are published on Instagram. Google processes 40,000 searches per second, totaling 3.5 billion searches per day. In a world where the internet has transformed the way humans interact, buy products, and learn, many organizations, governments, and brands spend thousands of dollars every year to reach their audience and engage new users and followers.
While navigating social media on a daily basis can be tricky for some adults, for young people who fall into generation Z or generation Alpha, social media has been present for most of their lives. According to a study published by the Canadian government, in 2021, nine in 10 Canadians, between 15 to 34 used social media. For La Tablée des Chefs, an NGO based in Québec that develops culinary education for youth, this figure it not surprising.
At Tablée des Chefs, staff, teachers, and chefs have observed how youth engage in social media more every year. Since 2012 La Tablée des Chefs has worked with many schools in Canada to include its Kitchen Brigades program in high schools’ extracurricular activities. The program teaches young people aged from 12 to 17 through workshops on basic cooking techniques and healthy eating habits. The goal is to increase the number of schools participating in the program, from 25 to 100, and expand the program to at least five provinces by 2024. Knowing that social media is an important communications tool for its participants, our group proposed building a comprehensive social media strategy to help reach this audience and meet this target.
Over a nine-month period we, a multi-disciplinary group of students, designed, adapted, and implemented a project to provide insightful information to La Tablée des Chefs. The group included Margarita, Zahra and Daniel Colcuc, MSc in Plant Agriculture.
We are from different countries (Canada, Colombia, and Iran) and we have different academic backgrounds (social and natural sciences). This project was also a great opportunity for us to find alternative ways to communicate and understand the cultural nuances of each other.
We needed to learn more about the complexities of a national food literacy program, were faced with the obstacles of COVID-19 and its impact on our plans and needed to manage ethical considerations, language barriers, and some communications gaps. After overcoming all these challenges, we conducted a literature review to understand why and how children engage in food literacy programs, a social media report for La Tablée des Chefs accounts, and focus groups with La Tablée des Chefs, staff, teachers, and students.
This approach enabled us to have better understanding of the Kitchen Brigades program and why youth participate. The program is a tremendous opportunity to develop new skills and learn about food outside of the classroom. Additionally social media is a powerful instrument for education. Based on our data, we provided recommendations to La Tablée des Chefs and organized them into three levels based on urgency.
One of the key recommendations is to create a digital strategy that complements the current organization’s mission. Before creating content, it is important to have a clear understanding of the audience.
As graduate students who were all born in the 1990s, we were eager to learn more about how youth utilize social media. In our focus groups we heard that this age group on average have on average nine social media accounts. Hearing their feedback and ideas were very important to the project and has the potential to help shape the future of the Tablee des Chefs’ social media strategy.
Marr (N.D), especially How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read. For more information, https://bernardmarr.com/how-much-data-do-we-create-every-day-the-mind-blowing-stats-everyone-should-read/
Schimmele, Fonberg, and Schellenberg (2021), especially (Canadians’ assessments of social media in their lives) for more information https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/36-28-0001/2021003/article/00004-eng.htm