Some Schools Add Dinner To The Menu

In Sacramento some schools are adding dinner to their day.

“It was dinnertime.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, 200 students clamored into the cafeteria at Union House Elementary in south Sacramento,forming a line in front of a mound of plastic-encased meals of sandwiches, pears and salads.”

Read more at the link above.
Why don’t schools use their range of activities to support their students, teach community gardening and healthy food choices, food service training as well as providing low and working class families with healthy meals raised, cooked and served by older (High School) students?
Why do I think schools can do better?
Yes, schools can do the bare minimum–serve lunches.  Some add breakfast.  Some schools try hard to prepare and serve good, nutritious food.  Most fail.  Miserably.
A few schools are trying to teach students and their parents to grow and serve vegetables, fruit  in community and/or home gardens.
None (that I have heard of) combine their activities in ways that work toward improving the lives of their students and the futures of their communities.
I am challenging schools and districts to build program that attack the need in a coordinated way, with methods developed with community input to track their work and determine outcomes.  What do we want?
We want food and food programs  that serve the needs of the families.  We want:
  • meals that provide qualitfood for our kids
  • gardens that support school meals with gardening activities provided by students and parents to provide food served in school meals
  • school gardens that teach students and parents where our food comes from and how to grow their own food and allows families to stretch their budgets with nutritious products
  • school and community gardens that make use of otherwise vacant or under utilized land in our cities and towns
  • school meals prepared with the support of students who get trained in food service at the school
  • at some schools develop a restaurant manned by students (and even some parents needing work skills) and supported by food grown in community & school gardens

It’s not just an opportunity to serve sandwiches, call it “dinner” and claim some federal funds for the school.

The late-afternoon meals come courtesy of the federal government’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2010. The law provides federal funding for schools to serve dinner as part of their after-school program if at least half the students at the school qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.”

If it is not done in new ways with predetermined paths moving toward improving the health of the families in the school and the communities the school serves, then we are merely giving someone a sandwich at the end of a long day.

Maybe the kid learns something from the homework they may complete in an after-school homework club but we will have missed a great opportunity to connect the growing of food to preparation of healthy & tasty meals with developing job skills and employment opportunities for students and parents.

Without constant prodding by parents and community leaders our schools will take the easy way out.  Too often schools are focused on building programs that give them a pathway to new or enhanced funding.  They are not (on their own) all about developing programs that meet the needs of the people they serve.

And they certainly are not all about developing unique program that address community needs in new ways.

A program like this will be difficult to develop, but the rewards are more than worth it.

We need parent-leaders who push and prod the schools and the politicians to develop and support programs that help our students and their families and offer skills training that helps build the future of our neighborhoods and communities.

This Sacramento area school and a neighborhood apartment house band together to improve the community they both live in, including working to open up a new section of a community gardenbehind the apartments.  Read the full article at the link above.

It has been a year in the planning but the current “spring-like” weather has allowed the work to move foward.
The students and staff from the school have worked with the apartment house residents (many of whom are parents with kids who attend this Waldorf school) to improve the apartment house as well as getting the garden ready for planting and increasing the size of the garden by opening up the additional land.
Several organizations played a role in the undertaking inspired by Edgard Gouveia Jr., an architect and urban planner who founded the Brazil-based Oasis Games.Gouveia, who has spent the week assisting with the project, spoke to students at Sacramento Waldorf School last spring about the Oasis Games, which aim to involve people in community development projects by approaching the work as a game.”


***more to come***

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