Food Literacy

Korean dishes shared at an event at Cresskill Public Library in New Jersey

What is Food Literacy?

Though not an exhaustive definition, we can think of food literacy, from the individual to the community level, as knowledge, skills, and behaviors that contribute to well-balanced diets, taking into account structural factors such as access, security, and sustainability.

Food literacy is sometimes referred to as culinary literacy. The Culinary Literacy Center of the Free Library of Philadelphia defines culinary literacy as “learning through cooking and learning about cooking.” The act of cooking is rich with literacy activities, including the reading and interpretation of recipes and the application of math and science concepts. Learning about cooking encompasses kitchen skills as well as the ability to interpret nutrition labels and understand the relationship between food and health.

ALA Resources


The Charlie Cart Project is an all-in-one program – a kitchen on wheels and full curriculum – to help connect food, health and the environment.

This toolkit, prepared by the Culinary Literacy Center (CLC) of The Free Library of Philadelphia, explains the mission of the CLC and describes the value of culinary literacy. It offers numerous theoretical and practical resources for libraries interested in offering culinary literacy spaces and programs.

This site offers videos, lessons and resources on eating healthy. There are interactive lessons for both children and adults with dedicated resources for teachers.  Lessons include stretch food dollars, reading food labels and making healthy food choices.

The Healthy Food Access portal provides research, best practices, case studies, webinars, and policy information for ensuring that all communities have equitable access to healthy affordable food.  Users are able to generate a food and health demographics report by zip code.

Nourish is an educational initiative to open a meaningful conversation about food, health and sustainability. It combines videos, curriculum resources, short films and professional learning to increase food literacy.

SC Read Eat Grow provides information regarding access to healthy food. It was created to encourage nutrition education, health literacy and food-related programming in public libraries.

The USDA’s web site provides reliable information on nutrition, healthy eating, physical activity and food safety.  MyPlate provides recipes and resources to help create healthy and budget-friendly meals.