Now more than ever, parents are conscious of words like “organic,” “healthy,” and “gluten-free” when it comes to their child’s lunches. It can be difficult, not to mention costly, to provide nutritious, farm-fresh, and also tasty lunches for children on a daily basis.
Wondering how to take the guesswork out of school lunches? What if lunch was grown and made right at school!
Imagine if a school's youngest children were taught the significance of healthy eating, beginning with planting fruits, vegetables, herbs, and much more in the organic garden?
In addition to a vegetable and fruit garden, growing a number of cafeteria menu items right on campus, the garden can also serve as a pumpkin patch and a butterfly garden, providing regular opportunities for outdoor, experiential science classes.
Lessons like the life cycle of the monarch butterfly, right inside the butterfly garden, bring the learning experience to life.
The garden is not the only space that can provide delicious fresh produce for the cafeteria and add depth to the students’ knowledge of how a farm-to-table program really functions. Schools can utilize indoor aeroponic growing towers within a greenhouse or solarium to supplement the garden. Students are able to use the towers and the growing medium to check pH, measure plant growth, and learn about how to help plants grow.
Free Downloadable Guide: Take a Closer Look at Friends' Central School
From composting to planting seeds to harvesting, the cycle comes to a close with students seeing the “fruits” of their labor on the cafeteria menu at lunch. Friends' Central Assistant Lower School Principal Ginger Fifer shares, “Students are not just learning about making an impact, they’re actually living it and able to see it. Last month, all the roasted potatoes on the cafeteria menu were from our garden, as well as the vegetables in the salad, the herbs in the dressing, and the butternut squash.”
This fall, Friends’ Central launched an exciting school lunch program called “Lettuce Feed You,” inspiring children to work toward a healthier and more sustainable world by delivering delicious, fresh-from-scratch, and whenever possible, local and organic foods. Featuring vegetarian and non-vegetarian menus prepared in-house by expert Chef Wadiya Gooden, healthy food options abound for Friends’ Central’s youngest eaters.
From enjoying food that connects to the curriculum – like Indian food in the first grade’s study of India – to participating in food preparation in age-appropriate ways, Lower School students are bringing their knowledge of food to life in myriad ways, creating a foundation for healthy eating and healthy living that will last a lifetime.
GRID Magazine recently profiled Friends' Central's incredible farm-to-table program. To read their take on this tremendous part of the Lower School curriculum, click here.