Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eat to Learn, Learn to Eat

Planting the Seeds for a Great School Year

Welcome to the first posting of a weekly blog about food happenings at Edible Schoolyard NOLA (ESY NOLA) and FirstLine Schools. My name is Justine Duchon and I am the In-House Dietetic Intern with ESY NOLA.

ESY NOLA is a signature program of FirstLine Schools dedicated to changing the way kids eat, learn and live. We integrate hands-on organic gardening and seasonal cooking into the school learning experience, culture and cafeteria meal programs. If you're interested in learning more, please visit our website.

ESY's work is reflected in the cafeteria where almost all of the meals are prepared from scratch.
Along with entrees representing our local food culture, each child receives 3 pieces of fresh fruit and 4 vegetables each day. All our school cafes also offer a daily salad bar option. We've also made the switch to whole grains. More than half of our grains offered are whole grains like brown rice whole wheat rolls. We're very proud of our food program, especially considering that over 90% of the children we serve are eligible to receive free lunches. Many live in neighborhoods that don't have grocery stores, making access to healthy, affordable foods a challenge. By offering these nutritious options at this school, we are also able to serve those children who are most in need.

New and exciting things are happening that I can't wait to share with you! First off, you may have noticed the title of this blog - "Eat to Learn, Learn to Eat." This motto represents FirstLine's commitment to nourishing the whole child. We know that success in the classroom starts with healthy, balanced meals in our school cafes. Our mission is to create healthy habits early in life to improve the health and well-being of our school children, and ultimately the community we serve. Food is a basic need, but we seek to teach, grow and eat good food that will nourish the body and mind and allow our students to grow up to lead healthy, successful lives.

You may already know that in the past month, all five of our schools have started classes. This includes our latest addition - Joseph S. Clark Preparatory High School. All of these schools have some level of Edible Schoolyard programming which may include: daytime garden and cooking classes tied to core academics, edible gardens on campus, food and health-related special events, and/or after-school cooking and gardening clubs.

We are looking forward to the start of the first culinary after-school program at Clark Prep tomorrow! Also, make sure you mark your calendars for Open Garden Day at Green Charter on September 10th from 10am until 1pm! There's a lot more t share with you this year including our Iron Chef Competition, Family Food Nights, menu study and survey projects in our dining cafes, and so much more. Stay tuned each Tuesday!

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