Tuesday, September 05, 2006

School Food is Big News!

Food seems to be the hot topic of the minute. (I really hope it stays that way!) The San Francisco Chronicle has reported on healthy school lunches a lot lately (see photo at left).

This morning the Chronicle printed the following Letter to the Editor, referring to a recent article on four individuals who are making a difference in school food and youth health. The article neglected to mention a major movement: school garden-based education!!

If they grow it, they will eat it

Editor -- Your article on the changes occurring in our school cafeterias was heartening and the work being done by the four people you profiled is admirable ("Obesity war's latest battlefront: the school cafeteria,'' Aug. 28). You have overlooked, however, an excellent and powerful tool used by SFUSD and other school districts -- the school garden.

San Francisco has more than 30 school gardens, producing year-round nutritious food. It is not uncommon to see a class of fourth-graders tuck into a just-harvested salad of romaine, oak leaf lettuce, sliced carrots and radishes, decorated with borage and marigold petals.

Parents wonder what witchery was performed on their children. Why are they eating their vegetables? Quite simply, if they grow them, they'll eat them.

School gardens, or outdoor classrooms, masterfully integrate science, language arts, math and, of course, nutrition, and are an excellent hands-on experience for children.

The benefits of supporting school gardens are countless. Growing one's food is an empowering and authentic experience and compelling reason to get off the couch.

Just take a walk to Alice Fong Yu School or Lakeshore Elementary in the Sunset, or Willie Brown Jr. in the Bayview, or June Jordan in the Excelsior -- or any of the other excellent garden programs at your neighborhood school to see these outdoor classrooms in action.

ARDEN BUCKLIN-SPORER, Director of Educational Gardens, S.F. Unified School District

NAN McGUIRE, Green Schoolyard Alliance

Photo Credit: Craig Lee, San Francisco Chronicle