Edible Schoolyard New Orleans

I had mentioned previously that this week’s rotation is a community rotation at Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, and it’s about time that I update you a little about how it’s been going.

The Edible School Yard program has been instituted at five different charter schools, the First Line Schools, in New Orleans.  Most of these schools have gardens that produce real food that the kids are able to use in kitchen class, where they actually get to cook!  The school that I’ve spent my time at so far, Arthur Ashe Charter School, as the most incredible kitchen classroom with three kitchen stations at which the children can help prepare meals, and three long tables to sit at during the lesson portion of the class.

Now, with all of these gardens they’ve got to find a way to feed the plants.  That’s where the composting comes in.  ESY had to do a lot of convincing, but after a while the schools allowed the staff to compost in order to sustainably make their own soil for the gardens.  Our first lesson was in composting, and how to encourage the kids to compost during breakfast.  There are little buckets on each table, and the kids put the remnants of their fruit in the bucket.  If they haven’t eaten their fruit, it goes to the side so that it can be re-washed, frozen, and used in smoothies.  This seems simple enough, but trust me – there is a lot of compost bucket policing to be done every morning.  After breakfast, all compost buckets get emptied into big white buckets and capped, then set outside for the master gardener to work her compost magic on.

After compost duty, we met with two different people to discus projects that they needed our help on.  This is what I was assigned:

Food ABCs the kindergarteners at Ashe are too young to start cooking, they come in and learn about different foods that start with different letters of the alphabet.  Since ESY makes an effort to integrate their lessons with topics that kids are learning in other classes, the Food ABCs lessons include a thorough discussion of what sound that letter makes and what other words begin with that letter, as well as including a tasting to increase acceptance of all sorts of foods.  The ESY staff is so busy with preparing foods and things for all different grade levels, that searching for interesting facts and nutrition information on all of their foods is time that could be better spent elsewhere.  Therefore, I’ve been asked to bring my nutrition expertise to the table and come up with kid-friendly facts about some of the foods to eliminate that step.

Whole Grain lesson plan for third and fourth graders, lessons get a little more in-depth.  Last class, they were introduced to MyPlate, and they will be breaking it down by section.  I was asked to do a lesson on whole grains, which is a subject I’ve talked about many times and will many times in the future – just not to kids this young.  Taking my normal discussion and bringing it down to third and fourth grade level is the main challenge here.  From that information, I’ll make informational table toppers for the cafeteria

Shopping on a Shoestring for Food Day 2013, ESY will be holding a fair-type event for all the families and kids at the schools.  One of the booths will be about how to cook healthy meals on a budget, and since RDs are all about getting the most nutrition bang for your buck and doing it in a delicious manner, we’re in charge of that booth.  The plan is to identify a bunch of interesting, low-cost recipes and do a cost analysis to come up with price per serving.  Each recipe will be designated by which MyPlate category it represents, and patrons will be challenged to put together a complete meal with all food groups for under a certain amount of money that is yet to be determined.  There will also be budget-saving shopping tips and information about the resources that are available to minimize food cost, like WIC.

National School Lunch Week is a way to promote the NSLP (National School Lunch Program) and to celebrate the healthy changes that have been happening lately in school lunches. To get the kids involved, First Line Schools will be doing a cafe tasting, where students get to compare a current menu item with a revamped version.  The item to be tasted will be determined by a pre-survey, and information will be collected day-of with another survey to help the foodservice director, ESY staff, and kitchen staff formulate some better recipes according to the students’ desires.  For this, I’m in charge of making the surveys and developing promotional materials for the kids, their parents, and the staff of the school.

Career Day at Green (one of the First Line Schools) is this Friday.  Through the Edible Schoolyard program, the students have had exposure to culinary professions, but not to jobs in the nutrition field.  Our preceptor thought that sharing our experience as dietetic interns with the students could be an eye-opening experience for many of them, so we get to have our own booth!  I’m especially excited about this.  I’ve always been the first to sign up to lead tours at the gym, to speak with new students and their parents at major fairs on accepted students day, and to do things like this career fair so that I can hopefully help someone else see what I love so much about health and wellness.  It’s an amazing field, and I hope to find some recruits!
So far I’ve completed the Food ABCs and I’m putting the finishing touches on all whole grain materials, and I’ve just got a few promo things to do for NSLW.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

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