PS 84’s ROOT Camp is a series of ten classes for our 5th grade students conducted over a ten-month period, providing these students on the cusp of middle school with an increased understanding of nutrition and how their food choices affect their health. The program also builds on the hands-on gardening program that the students have had throughout their elementary school years, training them to COOK the food that they have learned to GROW.
Lessons are introduced through a series of discussion questions, as well as some vocabulary to facilitate discussion, followed by a written brainstorm activity to spur conversation. The second half of the lesson is the “Please touch!” and “Use all of your other senses, as well” portion. Using hands as the first and most versatile tool (all fingers, not just thumbs), and basic utensils and simple kitchen appliances, they prepare tasty, colorful, aromatic samplers.
Some of the ideas discussed in the lessons are the connection between food and well-being, food justice, criteria for making decisions, and the rationale of personal and community economics of shopping locally and in season. Students receive a handout including a few facts, a take-home message, a few suggestions for recipes and new ingredients to try out at home with their families, and the topic for next month’s class to allow them to prepare and ponder. As students reach adolescence, it is critical that they are knowledgeable about being in charge of their own food choices.
Through this integrated garden and nutrition program, we give our students a much-needed toolkit to improve their own health, as well as the health of their families. They develop the skills to plant, tend and harvest their own herbs and vegetables (even if only in an apartment windowsill). They also acquire the nutrition knowledge that fosters making healthier food choices. Further, they gain the skills to prepare quick, simple, inexpensive, yet healthy recipes for themselves and for their families and friends.
This course was developed and implemented through the generous foundation support of Ample Table for Everyone (ATE), a non-profit working to fund solutions that feed a growing population of food insecure families in New York City. Learn more at ampletableforeveryone.org.
The Ten lesson Teacher Handbook can be downloaded by clicking here: PS 84 ROOT Camp HANDBOOK
For more information about the Root Camp Course, and how to implement at your school, please contact: Megan Nordgren at: firstname.lastname@example.org