In Auburn School District in Washington State, school lunches include oven roasted veggies like carrots, zucchini, beans, beets, sweet potatoes and kale, as well as fresh plums, pears and watermelon. Much of the produce comes straight from our school garden. We’ve found that there’s nothing like growing a vegetable from a tiny seed to inspire a child give a new fruit or vegetable a try!
Our Horticulture students, the after school garden club and our Summer School Academy students plan and tend the garden, which includes an orchard with 43 fruit trees. Students in the Academy make their own breakfast and then go to the garden to learn about the life cycle of plants, how to compost and the importance of good nutrition. They harvest foods to cook in their lunch each day, and the fruits of their labor supplement our summer food program, serving 2,000 children a day at 49 different community sites throughout the summer.
Our Elementary students enjoy having fresh garden food on their salad bars at school. Many kids today don’t know what a raw vegetable straight from the garden even looks like, so in our district we are trying to incorporate more whole foods in our meals. Instead of French fries, the students love their oven roasted potatoes with just a little oil, kosher salt and pepper.
This year we had several high school students comment on the peace they find working in the garden when life at home may not be so great. Our gardeners aren’t just learning healthy habits – they are learning to take pride in their labors.