Public Health Merit Badge

Click here for the official guidelines from the Boy Scouts of America for the Public Health Merit Badge.

Public health concerns generally speak to disease prevention and treatment. However, these issues are not unrelated to food supply issues. Diseases can be transmitted from unwashed produce to those who eat it, which is why it is so important to wash fresh vegetables before eating them.

Nutrition is also an important part of public health. Populations that do not consume adequate amounts of nutrients are at risk of epidemic illnesses as their immune systems are not adequately nourished to fight off germs. People who live in conditions that compromise their nutritional intake often find that their living conditions are also not particularly sanitary, which increases the risk of contagious disease further.

If you have a self-watering container garden, controlling for pests will be an important task. Insects and rodents can carry disease and both can be attracted to your garden. This badge requires you to explain how to control for rodents and insects in your home, which should include any garden you have.

Relevant to the food and nutrition concerns upon which our Learn & Grow Educational Series is based is the issue of school food quality. This badge requires you to meet with the food service manager of a food service facility, one option being a school cafeteria.

While the point of this exercise is to look at food handling techniques and approaches from the perspective of preventing the spread of contagious diseases, such as salmonella, look also to the types of foods they are handling. How much is fresh produce? How much is processed foods? What kinds of ingredients are in them?

Given that morbid obesity and diabetes are diet-related diseases that are occurring at epidemic rates throughout the United States among adults and children, to what degree is the food in the cafeteria you visit helping to prevent the spread of disease? Are all preventable diseases contagious ones or are diet-related diseases preventable, as well? For more information on this issue, view the TED Talk video below:

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