by GEHRY OATEY
A Mayan elder told me recently to forget all the BS about 2012 (he didn’t quite use those words). No, the world is not coming to an end, despite all evidence to the contrary from Hollywood. According to this wise elder and farmer, 2012 is the end of another cycle; we are leaving a 100 year period of war and violence and entering into 100 year cycle of wisdom. My Buddhist leanings aside… from what I see happening around food and middle school kids, I think he may be right.
I see it every Tuesday and Friday: ceviche, tomatadas, how about some homemade pizza with organically grown produce, sushi, eggrolls (heck yes—fried), sweet potato pancake caramelized and served with some fresh greens from the market… I’m not talking about what I eat at home. And I’m not talking about any of Julia Child’s 524 recipes that I wrote about in a previous blog either.
I’m talking about Middle School Kids. Hells yeah. Not only do they cook and prepare the food mentioned above, they run the weekly produce stand as well! That’s right—the kids are so “over” the food they are being served in the cafeteria, they will work for 3 hours outside of school unpaid in order to take home some fresh produce. They will even put on an apron and plastic gloves. Sure, it is a gigantic mess, but the crazy thing is they actually clean it up! How many 13 year olds do you know who clean up after themselves? For those of you who are down with middle school kids, you are nodding your head right now with a smile.
How about some fresh tomatoes to go along with those fresh kicks?
by GEHRY OATEY
I have so far done a good job at pecking away at the holes in Oakland’s current school lunches. The ‘hella’ stale sandwiches, reheated meals, and expired milk are, sadly, accepted as normal here in our district—as they are in many of America’s cafeterias.
It’s time to recognize some small strobes of light (to grab a phrase from the previous post) making their way to Oakland. Thanks to the hard work of a few ‘fed-up‘ teachers, students, community members, and district staff, the I hella love Oakland community is doing something about the malignant federally subsidized food system. And, yes, this post is meant to make Oakland School District homies look good.
It’s no secret you are more likely to find a liquor store than a grocery store in East Oakland. This year with the help of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and in collaboration with East Bay Asian Youth Center and Alameda County Public Health Department, the Oakland Unified School District will pilot twelve farmers markets in public schools and make available an impressive amount of fresh produce to those living in one of our country’s most populated food deserts.
Oakland parents will get free produce in exchange for helping run the markets at school sites once per week beginning October 21st. The markets will purchase pesticide-free produce from local farms (many smaller farmers can’t afford to get certified as “organic”). At some schools, the students will actually take part in setting up and running the market! Food stamps will be accepted at the markets and their will be nutrition education and cooking demonstrations with the help of Alameda County Public Health Department.
By GEHRY OATEY
Each day I walk into the school cafeteria to check in with my students on their own turf. There is one scene that repeats itself without fail each lunch—fried beef on a stick is served (or some such artificially preserved nastiness), the kids turn up their noses, and fights ensue over the good fruit and string cheese.
Mmm. Grilled cheese in a bag.
100% of our students are eligible for the free lunch that arrives with the SYSCO trucks each morning. 100% are also required by law to stand in line and receive the daily offering—at least one of each item. No shocker here to anyone who works in a school, but half of this goes directly to the garbage. Some of it is discarded after a couple of bites, but many students don’t even take that risk—they take the required food item and instantly throw it away.
For a more comprehensive look at my school’s cafeteria food, visit my class’s blog: http://510eatswell.blogspot.com/
Tellingly, I rarely see any teachers eating the school lunch. Seems strange that this needs to be said, but if it’s not good enough for us, why do we give it to our students? This isn’t just about a stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it’s about social justice. Check Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food…”