My students attend a small autonomous public Title I high school in Oakland, CA, designed to foster student success through experiential learning and an extensive internship program.
As the garden steward and garden-ecology internship mentor, I teach students (who mostly live in food deserts) how to grow and prepare organic produce in order to improve their nutritional status.
Further, their time in our therapeutic garden improves their social and mental well-being. Our student population is diverse, consisting of 50% Latino, 30% African American, 7% White, and 13% Asian American. Over 75% of the school's students qualify for free and/or reduced-price lunch.
The garden-ecology internship not only provides an authentic environment and audience for our students' work, it also creates an opportunity for our students to develop healthy eating habits, form meaningful relationships, develop a life-long connection with nature, and learn ways to fight food insecurity in our community.
My project involves introducing my students to garden-to-table meals in order to increase their access to healthier food choices to improve their nutritional status. This school year, we’ve introduced “Taste Testing Tuesdays (TTT)” and have served Ginger-Curry Butternut Squash Soup, Tomato Bisque Soup, Veggie Chili, Sweet Kale Salad and Apple Crisp. TTT has been a great success! So much so that my students and I are preparing a garden-to-table cookbook based on their favorite recipes. Because we don’t currently have a way to cook TTT meals outdoors, a parent volunteer or I prepare these meals at home and then transport the TTT dish to the school garden which is inconvenient.
My students are requesting a Camp Chef outdoor stove/oven and a NutriBullet Rx for the outdoor kitchen in order to prepare garden-to-table meals in the school garden.
They look forward to TTT but have shared with me that they would get more out of the experience if they could see or participate in cooking demonstrations. Additionally, my students have requested an outdoor cooking class to learn how to prepare these garden-to-table meals themselves and gain confidence in the kitchen. In summary, by acquiring a Camp Chef outdoor stove/oven, NutriBullet Rx and propane adapter hose, I will be able to demonstrate to my students how to cook the organic produce they grow and how to increase their nutritional status for better health outcomes.
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