Greetings from Detroit, where I’m attending the 5th Annual Farm to Cafeteria conference.
On Monday, as a lead-up to the conference, I acted as one of the judges for the Healthy Schools Campaign Cooking Up Change contest, in which 3 high school finalist teams, and two college finalist teams competed to create the best (tastiest, most innovative, and in line with school purchasing and IOM nutrition standards) healthy school lunch. Any of you who have been following our Time for Lunch campaign and the battle in Congress right now for more money for school lunch know that making a healthy and delicious school lunch for only $1–what’s left after overhead & payroll–is incredibly hard. The kids were articulate and adorable and cooked up some tasty treats! The highlights for me were a chicken breast crusted with pesto and, yep, corn flakes; a cornbread casserole with beans, cheese, and tomatoes; and the winner, a meal that included a tepary bean quesadilla! You can read an interview with the kids here, and please note that their supremely delicious beans are a Slow Food Ark of Taste product.
I kept hearing about this beautiful movie, “Grown in Detroit,” and the amazing and inspiring school that lies at the heart of the film. Tonight I got to see the movie, as part of a conference-run movie night complete with Applegate Farms hotdogs (delish), popcorn and root beer. I left the theatre with a DVD clutched in my grasp, to show to all of my friends and colleagues, and anyone else who wants to borrow it. Catherine Ferguson Academy, run by Asenath Andrews, the principal we all wish we had, is a public school in Detroit for pregnant teens and their babies. The school has a farm ( a “big garden with animals” says Andrews), one that teaches lessons in life cycles, business, biology and hard work; that provides revenue for the school and its students; and that brings fresh, delicious food into a community that finds these foods in short supply. Food is the palette here for myriad learning opportunities–including, as one girl mentioned at the talk-back after the showing, that by taking care of these farm animals she learned about taking care of her own daughter. I can’t say enough wonderful things about Ms. Andrews, the beautiful and thoughtful girls both in the movie and on the panel tonight, and about this movie, which you can see by organizing a screening in your community.