The edible schoolyard project created and made famous by locavore activist Alice Waters is in danger as Berkeley parents and community members search for ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three elementary schools.
The programs at Malcom X, Rosa Parks, and Washington have a combined budget of $372,000 and are under threat because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal dollars since they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program. “It seems unfair and arbitrary that a small shift in our demographics should result in the total loss of funding for these innovative programs that are so integral to the curriculum and student health,” said Joshua Room, PTA secretary for the Malcolm X school. “At a time when the nation is adopting gardening and cooking programs in the schools,” he added, “it would be cruelly ironic for Berkeley, one of the birthplaces of this movement, to lose its well-established model programs.”
The programs are usually lauded for their health benefits but the parents in the Berkeley community were also clear that the programs have deep educational importance.
The Berkeley School Gardening and Cooking Alliance launched a Facebook page to educate the community about just what’s at stake for student should the program go away.
This kind of innovative thinking in public education and health results in exactly the kind of programming we should embrace in our schools. Let’s hope the Berkeley schools and community is able to find funding to save these crucial educational programs.
Photo from OakleyOriginals via flickr.