School curriculums rarely undergo seismic changes—it’s irregular to see a brand new pillar appear in lesson plans. But Edible Schoolyard NYC—by directly educating students in seven schools and 600 educators in charge of another 400,000 students at other schools—is hoping to expand public school curriculum to include classes about healthy eating, growing produce and cooking. This “edible” curriculum is aimed to foster healthier habits, lower quantities of food waste and a gained interest in sustainable food systems.
“Edible Schoolyard NYC’s mission is to support edible education for every child in New York City. We partner with New York City public schools to cultivate healthy students and communities through hands-on cooking and gardening education, transforming children’s relationship with food. We believe in a future where all children are empowered to make healthy food choices for themselves, their communities, and their environment, actively achieving a just and sustainable food system for all,” Kate Brashares, Edible Schoolyard NYC’s executive director, says.
The organization’s work is crucial, especially in times like these—according to recent statistics, 40% of elementary school children in NYC are considered obese and 94% of those same children do not get the proper serving of vegetables each day.
To advance its mission, Edible Schoolyard relies on a spring benefit dinner and auction, the largest fundraiser it hosts. This year’s benefit features some of New York City’s finest chefs. Daniela Soto-Innes (Cosme and Atla), Ignacio Mattos (Estela, Cafe Altro Paradiso and Flora Bar), Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra (Contra, Wildair and Una Pizza Napoletana), Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt (King) and David Chang (Momofuku) are among the 20+ who are participating.
“All of the funds raised through the spring benefit go directly to supporting hands-on gardening and cooking education for every child in New York City. We offer a variety of program models that range in depth and scope, focusing on Title 1 NYC public (traditional and charter) schools in underserved communities with the highest rates of diet-related diseases,” Brashares continues.
The benefit will also honor acclaimed chef, restaurateur and originator of the first Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters. “Our approach is inspired by Alice’s philosophy and model of edible education and tailored to meet the specific needs of NYC public school students in underserved communities. In addition to her impact on edible education, Alice has been a champion of local, sustainable agriculture for over four decades,” Brashares says.
“The theme of the Spring Benefit is ‘Farmers and Chefs’ and we’re celebrating the incredibly important role our farmers and chefs play in bringing real, healthy food to our tables, and how the students in our schools are farmers and chefs too,” she continues. “Alice inspired us to start the program and has been an inspiration to countless others working in food today. We’re excited to honor her and celebrate her legacy both to the edible education movement and to the food movement in general.”
Images courtesy of Edible Schoolyard NYC