Students at Peabody Charter School in Santa Barbara, CA, have an active hand in sourcing ingredients for their own lunches. The sixth grade’s Garden Project produces lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables that it then sells to the cafeteria. The proceeds, some $3,000 annually, fund the class’s annual trip to science camp.
In addition, kids help in the kitchen. Every Friday is pizza day and students come in early to be among those who get to help roll the dough and spread the sauce. Other times, they prepare their own home-grown products. “They’ll come in with a bucket of new potatoes from the garden, for example, that they’ll then prepare and serve with their lunch,” says Cafeteria Manager Laurel Lyle.
Lyle says she sees education about foods and nutrition as part of her job. She actively sources organic vegetables through a nearby farm wholesaler and makes it a point to introduce her young customers to different fresh foods.
The school is looking to add a full-time teaching position next year that will integrate the garden, kitchen and class room and develop a curriculum for each grade level, Lyle adds.
All the interactivity is paying off. Of the 650 students at the school, some 450 eat in the cafeteria on a typical day. That increases to around 550 on Friday pizza days, says Lyle.