Inspired by Alice Waters' work in San Francisco, First Line Charter Schools in New Orleans was one of the first school systems to model Edible School Yards (ESY) http://www.esynola.org/about-esynola.html programs in a high poverty, low access community. At Green Academy, they started school just 3 days prior to Katrina. After Katrina, only one in sixty teachers returned. The blessing in that mess, came in the form of a unique opportunity to rebuild, redesign and repurpose - buildings, kitchens, classrooms and land. "The mission of Samuel J. Green Charter School is to prepare our students for college, careers and a successful life.
Many of the First Line Charter schools serve breakfast, lunch, snack and supper to an enrollment of food insecure children - basically 94 to 97% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunches. The addition of Edible SchoolYards curriculum including a teaching kitchen classroom, along with gardens and outdoor classrooms has increased not only students, but families, awareness of nutrition and healthy foods by "integrating hands-on organic gardening and seasonal cooking into the school curriculum, culture, and cafeteria programs".
The day I visited, the students were involved in an "Iron Chef" contest led by their Chef. The schools also hosts "edible experiences'" with family dinners and cooking classes. In the garden the children have harvested about 300 pounds of grapes the past few years.
It was very inspiring to visit three of the First Line Charter Schools Edible School Yards. Stay tuned for more stories and photos.