Orlando Science Center

Programming Funded: Food Heroes Exhibit

Year Funded: 2021

How PSF helped achieve the programming goal:

As perhaps our one true universal language, food is the perfect way to engage with one another. With the help of the generous support of the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation, Orlando Science Center (OSC) has developed innovative ways to explore the interconnectedness of the food system and those people fighting to make it more equitable, sustainable, and healthy for everyone through our Food Heroes exhibit. Food Heroes illuminates the fascinating and complex world of our food system through an immersive, hands-on exhibit that teaches visitors how they can be a part of creating a stronger, community-based food system. 

Food Heroes is located within OSC’s 4Roots Café, which serves plant-forward menu items, sourcing as much produce as possible from local growers. This integrated exhibit/dining experience fully immerses visitors with interactive stations, such as a robotic arm that visitors use to “pick strawberries” to understand farming automation, and a web-enabled app in which visitors can create and display their own digital plant. A giant LED display shows videos with stories from 15 local food heroes and how they are strengthening our community and fighting food insecurity through methods that range from hydroponic gardening to culinary medicine. Spotlighted organizations include 4Roots, Black Bee Honey, HEBNI Nutrition, Fleet Farming, O-Town Compost, Infinite Zion Farms, and Orlando Health. Their stories showcase the impact our community is making on the issues of sustainable farming and food security, inspiring visitors to become the food heroes of tomorrow.  

Funding from the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation has allowed OSC to amplify this exhibit’s impact by hosting immersive, live workshops. During the grant period, OSC explored a variety of exciting workshops including Florida Citrus Varieties and Juice, Healthy Lunchboxes, Microgreens, Food as Fuel, Growing Local Honey, Cooking Safely, Gardening by Season, Vermiculture, Hydroponics, and our new permanent workshop series-Serving Up Science. Workshops are presented during lunchtime and take place in the space shared by the exhibit and the 4Roots Café dining area. This guarantees that there is a built-in audience for these programs, increasing our impact. These workshops, presentations, and demonstrations help expose visitors to a variety of food-related topics and show them how to impact their own health and the world around them through simple lifestyle changes. 

Through the generous support of the Pabst Steinmetz Foundation, OSC was able to work towards our goal of educating the community about the connection between food choices and individual health and how fostering a sustainable, community-based food system has a lasting effect on the overall health and wellbeing of our community. 

As our team reflects on the success of Food Heroes program, one particular story rises to the top. During a Saturday workshop, as our Director of Programs projected ordinary foods as seen from a microscope onto the big screen. The presenter showed the visitors, many of whom were children, a different way to “see” their food. A young child in the audience approached his table and asked if he could see his cucumber slice under the microscope. This innocent interaction caused a contagion of curiosity as other children, caregivers, and even staff from 4Roots café brought their food to examine under the microscope. It is exciting, organic interactions just like this that truly inspire science learning for life!