Tag Archives: school food

New Edible Schoolyard head Heron plans for growth

Journalist Katrina Heron takes the reins at the Edible Schoolyard Project Photo: Alex Stock
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Veteran writer and editor Katrina Heron — who has done stints at The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, and Wired — was recently named the new director of The Edible Schoolyard Project, the nonprofit started by school food champion Alice Waters which seeks to promote edible education and reform the National School Lunch program.

While taking the reins at the school cooking, gardening, and lunch advocacy organization is a departure from Heron’s journalism career, she has long been associated with the group and reported on a range of food matters for high-profile outlets.

Heron began working with ESYP (then the Chez Panisse Foundation) 11 years ago as a volunteer, joined the board of directors in 2003 and served until 2010.

“When I learned, on quite short notice, that the director role was open, it just seemed like the right time to assume a more active role in advocating for edible education,” said Heron, who follows in the footsteps of several short-lived leaders of the institution, most recently Quinn Fitzgerald, Francesca Vietor, and Brian Byrnes. Prior to that, the post was held by Carina Wong, who departed to work for the Gates Foundation in Seattle. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley group has plan to fix school food in Oakland

Cooking classes at Met West High School in Oakland. Photo: Tyler, Center for Ecoliteracy
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The meeting was held in San Francisco earlier this week at the offices of SPUR, a nonprofit created to promote good planning and good government. The focus of the discussion: an ambitious plan to overhaul Oakland Unified School District‘s inadequate and antiquated school food service. But the driving force behind what could be a model program for re-imagining school lunch in large school districts around the nation is a Berkeley-based nonprofit that has quietly been rethinking school lunch for many years.

No, not that nonprofit. The Center for Ecoliteracy recently released a detailed feasibility study that, if implemented, would amount to a massive makeover for the OUSD school food program. It includes recommendations for a newly outfitted, green central commissary with a 1.5-acre edible farm in West Oakland, refurbished existing kitchens, and the development of 14 school-based community kitchens dotted throughout the school district, which serves 38,000 students at 101 schools, 70% of whom are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The community kitchens are envisaged as places where budding edible entrepreneurs and local organizations with a food focus could work, for a fee, during after-school hours. … Continue reading »

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Community seeks life support for school edible programs

The end of salad days for BUSD students? Photos: Rivka Mason
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This week, Berkeley parents and community members rallied to find ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three local elementary schools.

The programs at Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington, whose combined budgets are  $372,000, are threatened because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal monies as they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program.

At a meeting at Malcolm X on Monday night, about two dozen people representing the three schools and the South Berkeley community hashed out ideas to find money in the short-term — and discussed the bigger-picture concern of making these programs sustainable,  as well as available to all BUSD students over the long haul. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley school gardening, cooking programs face cuts

Sharing the pleasures of an outdoor table: The delicious revolution at Malcolm X.
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Three of Berkeley Unified School District‘s elementary schools – Malcolm XRosa 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% 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.

School gardening and cooking champion Alice Waters, whose Chez Panisse Foundation helped fund the Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, expressed dismay at the potential budget cuts to programs. “It’s inevitable cuts will come — people think these programs are dispensable and the state of California is in a financial crisis — but it’s a tragedy,” she said. … Continue reading »

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New guide aims to improve school food beyond Berkeley

Food conference
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Regular readers may think that the only person in town doing anything to fix school food in Berkeley and beyond is Alice Waters via her Edible Schoolyard Project.

But that perception would be wrong. Founded in 1995, the Center for Ecoliteracy has also long championed school food reform and channeled funding in the millions to garden programs, cooking classes, and nutrition-based curriculum in Berkeley public schools.

Along with the Chez Panisse Foundation and Berkeley Unified School District, the Center for Ecoliteracy also implemented the School Lunch Initiative, which kickstarted local, seasonal, and sustainable food for students here and connected the classroom and the cafeteria. … Continue reading »

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Chez Panisse birthday fundraising declared a success

The children say it all at the Berkeley Art Museum party for Chez Panisse. Photo: Christina Diaz
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Now that the hoopla is over, it’s time to take stock of how the Chez Panisse 40th anniversary celebrations fared as a fundraising effort.

Answer: pretty well. The Chez Panisse Foundation had a goal to raise $500,000 for all its 40th birthday activities combined, which it exceeded by a lot, said event producer Carolyn Federman, who didn’t specify exactly how much the private dinners, restaurant parties, and other activities raised.

The money will go to support the recently launched Edible Schoolyard Project (ESYP) website, which has an estimated annual operating cost of about $1.5 million, according to Federman. This new, national nonprofit, building on the work of the Edible Schoolyard locally, intends to serve as a “best practices” resource for kitchen and garden classes in schools across the country looking for ideas, tools, resources, curriculum and community to support their work. Interviews for candidates for the ESYP director position are currently under way. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley Bites: Alice Waters

alice.waters.inthegreenkitchen
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Do Berkeleyside readers even need an introduction to the mother of the American fresh, local, sustainable, organic food movement?

Alice Waters is a living legend. For four decades, the California cuisine innovator, Chez Panisse chef, Edible Schoolyard founder, school food reformer, and Slow Food advocate, has influenced how people in this country buy, cook, eat, talk, and think about food.

As with any icon, Waters has her fans and foes. Some see her as … Continue reading »

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