Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools–Malcolm X,  Rosa Parks, and Washington—are in jeopardy of losing their entire cooking and gardening program funds beginning in October this year.

Under existing guidelines, the schools will no longer qualify for federal funding because they have fewer than 50 percent of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program, according to Leah Sokolofski, who supervises the program for the district.

Berkeley has an international reputation for its edible schoolyards, where public school children of all economic means learn what it takes to grow a radish and sauté some chard. Such funding cuts to the program, whose total budget is $1.94 million a year, would represent a significant setback in the city’s pioneering efforts to date. Read more

When Jamie Oliver set out to change the eating habits of people in Huntington, West Virginia, he cut up a whole raw chicken in front of a group of school children. He started by removing the breasts, legs, and wings and separating them from the leftover carcass. Then he asked the children which pile contained the best parts of the chicken, and they pointed to the good pile. Then he put the other pile, the skin and carcass, in a blender and pulverized it. When he told the kids those were the parts used to make chicken nuggets, they all said, “Ewww!” But when he formed the blended bone and cartilage into patties, fried them, and asked who would like one, a bunch of hands shot up. Read more

School gardens are an excellent way for children to get to know fresh fruits and vegetables, supplement classroom instruction, and just plain spend more time outdoors. Alice Waters created the model for the Edible Schoolyard over a decade ago and dozens of school gardens have followed suit. With a recent critical article in The Atlantic getting people talking about the value of school gardens again, it seemed an opportune time to take a peek into eight programs that are teaching kids a love of gardening and cooking and then share some resources for starting program to your own school. Read more

The new Dining Commons at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, California – feeding students since August – opened its doors to the community on Saturday to show off the latest phase of a revolutionary approach to school lunch. For the first time, several hundred parents, teachers, local food activists and assorted politicians – including Mayor Tom Bates, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier and Congresswoman Barbara Lee – could sit together in this extraordinary new building and share an ordinary school lunch: lentil soup, grilled chicken with roasted root vegetables, green salad and bread, fresh fruit. They paid $100 apiece for the privilege (the proceeds going to support the program). Students pay anywhere from 40 cents to $3.50 for a comparable meal (depending on family income). Read more