Berkeley’s beloved school gardening and cooking program, where public school children plant peas, cook kale, and chase chickens–all while discovering connections to nature, science, language, math, health, nutrition and other life lessons–is in dire straits due to pending federal funding cuts.
Come October, the Berkeley Unified School District’s (BUSD) edible education efforts will lose $1.9 million of U.S. Department of Agriculture financing (administered through the Network for a Healthy California) for 14 school cooking and garden programs, from the preschool through high school level. Unless replacement income is found, such cuts would essentially gut the district program, considered a model around the country.
The community is gearing up to raise funds and awareness on many levels. A Change.org petition is gathering signatures in support of the campaign. Individual schools are writing grant proposals and holding plant sales, movie nights, and fun runs to support cooking and gardening instruction. Meanwhile, a city-wide Dine Out event is slated for May 30, with prominent local food businesses and restaurants in the mix such as the Cheese Board, Comal, Gather, Ippuku, La Note, and Revival Bar + Kitchen, who are all donating a percentage of sales to the classroom campaign.
Read other posts by Sarah Henry on KQED’s Bay Area Bites.