My article, “School Food Reform, One No-Bake Tart at a Time,” marks my long-awaited (6 months–to be exact!) debut on The Atlantic Food channel. All of the time spent was worth it. The article discusses Dr. Antonia Demas’ Food Is Elementary program (which I also wrote about here) and its innovative integration of healthy USDA commodity foods. Here’s a snippet:
Using these healthy commodity foods, most of which would be prohibitively expensive if bought on the open market, is one factor that makes Food Is Elementary a cost-effective program. As Antonia Demas noted, “I think the commodity program, if used correctly and in conjunction with classroom-based education, could really be a way to solve health problems in this country.” Her integration of healthy commodity foods won Food Is Elementary a national award for creativity in implementing USDA guidelines.
I also visited a successful Food Is Elementary program, run by Catherine Dixon, at the Stadium School in Baltimore. Her students’ reactions to the class were pretty inspiring:
Perhaps the strongest insurance Food Is Elementary can have is enthusiasm from students—something Catherine Dixon’s program in Baltimore has managed to inspire. Her students unanimously told me her class was their favorite part of the day. “I like that it’s more cooking than working,” one student joked. Another explained, “I like that we get to chop things, and learn about the food and where it comes from—it’s like going to another culture.” And surprisingly, when asked what their favorite dishes that they made in class were, students tended to name the more exotic-sounding, gourmet fare: veggie burgers, sushi, and of course, that delectable raw fruit tart.