Throughout my campaign for school board, I’ve talked a lot about promoting healthy, well-rounded children. In fact, when given a chance to speak to fourth graders at Lakeview Elementary School, one of the questions the kids asked me was if I felt the school lunches could be healthier. I absolutely think school lunches could be healthier district-wide, and as I’ve done some research on the issue of healthy school lunches, I came across the Edible Schoolyard program developed and implemented by the Chez Panisse Foundation out of Berkeley, California. As stated on its website, the Edible Schoolyard (ESY) “is a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom for urban public school students at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California. At ESY, students participate in all aspects of growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious, seasonal produce.”
Teachers and the garden staff work together to tie garden experiences with students’ science lessons for truly integrated “hands-on” learning, and students also harvest and prepare produce as part of their garden and kitchen classes. Alice Waters, the leading voice of the Edible Schoolyards program, has been pushing the current administration to adopt her Edible Schoolyard project on a wider scale, arguing most public schools are serving too much processed food that is contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic. Studies have shown that between 16 and 33 percent of American children and adolescents are obese, and school lunches would be a great place to start tackling that problem.
As a parent and a potential school board member, I’d love to see South Milwaukee explore the idea of a district garden that could be utilized by teachers as a teaching tool while also providing the district’s students with healthier and more nutritious lunch options.