Publication Date

Spring 2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)




Robert Gliner


California Universal Meals, Child Nutrition Programs, Experiential Education, National School Lunch Program, School Nutrition, Student Wellness

Subject Areas

Educational leadership


The typical American diet, which involves the consumption of processed foods high in saturated fats, sodium, and refined sugar, is known to be unhealthy. Millions of students in the U.S. suffer from symptoms of malnutrition, making them susceptible to compromising health conditions such as type 2 diabetes that may persist into adulthood. Well-designed school nutrition programs and action learning that promotes sustainable agriculture have the potential to enhance students’ nutritional well-being as well as their understanding of the ecological systems needed to support good nutrition. This dissertation uses documentary film as an exploratory, qualitative research method to investigate approaches used in school nutrition programs and nutrition-related education that can have a positive impact on students’ lives. The result is a documentary film called Edible Learning: Promoting Better Nutrition in Schools. Several themes emerged from this study suggesting that experiential lessons to educate students about sustainable food systems should permeate throughout a school–in the cafeteria, in garden learning environments, and through school-community partnerships. Supportive, non exploitative partnerships can be leveraged to overcome institutional challenges faced in promoting greater nutritional health. Recommendations are given for optimal practices in school food service programs and curricula, including courses of study such as agroecology, in order to positively impact students’ health and their understanding of the importance of optimal nutrition and the ecology of food systems.