Winter 2012Volume 17 Number 1 ▪ About this Jane and Larry Levine and Christina Schiavoni▪ Food Corps: Cultivating a Sustainable School G

kids nc2110

Winter 2012

Volume 17 Number 1


About this Jane and Larry Levine and Christina Schiavoni

Jane Larry Christina

Larry and Jane Levine and Christina Schiavoni

The mildest of winters here in the Northeast is drawing to a close. A winter that brought no measurable snow to the city, and except for some bitter cold days, was spring-like in temperature.

With spring just around the corner, our thoughts are returning to our ongoing discussion about community gardens. This topic resonated with our readers and in this issue you will discover three articles devoted to the subject of food.

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Food Corps: Cultivating a Sustainable School Garden Sarah Rubin


Sarah Rubin

It’s been well over a decade since I graduated from elementary school, but most days I still eat lunch in a school cafeteria. As a school garden educator working with K-5 students, I make a point of eating with them so I can provide a gentle reminder that the food on their plates, in its initial form, originated from the soil - much like the food we’ve grown outside in the school’s raised garden beds. The experience never disappoints. Students chat with me about their favorite cartoon characters, ask questions about my meals, and deliver charming stream-of-consciousness monologues about anything that grabs their attention. Last week I found myself engaged in an age-old form of cafeteria commerce: trading. I accepted two Cheez-Its from a 2nd grader under the condition that he try a spoonful of my wheat berry salad from the lunch line, a new healthy item that the cafeteria offers once a month. I watched him take a tentative bite and found myself thinking, as I so often do these days, “I have a wonderfully unconventional job.”

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Bird’s the word: Cooking better chicken for Chicago’s Meredith Modzelewski


Meredith Modzelewski

When I last wrote, School Food FOCUS – a collaborative that leverages knowledge and buying power of large school districts to make school food nationwide more healthful, regional, and sustainable – had worked closely with Saint Paul Public Schools and Denver Public Schools as part of our Learning Lab program to transform meals served in their cafeterias. These two districts have made major progress and continue to grow.

As we begin 2012, FOCUS has accomplished a lot in a year. We held our biggest-yet National Gathering in Denver, energizing our movement and forging new, important relationships; made real progress in deepening our work with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on the national level; took the first steps toward a new regional, seven-state-wide model of our Learning Lab in the Upper Midwest; and grew to a whopping 33 member districts, representing nearly 4.3 million children across the country.

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Nutrition, Orphans and AIDS in Donna Stokes

Donna edited

Donna Stokes

COPPER BELT REGION, Zambia—Mercy Mwananyanda cradles her infant daughter in the late-morning shade in front of her thatch-roof home in northern Zambia. She and her husband, Humphrey, now support five children, including two AIDS orphans, on what they can grow on their small farm.

It isn’t enough. For more than eight months out of the year—all but the rainy season from February to early May—they do not have enough to eat.

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Abundance: The Dig In! Yancey Community John Hartom

John Hartom

John Hartom

Some projects seem to begin in “full bloom”—everything in place from the start. There is nothing much to decide, you just have to put the plan into action. This can involve lots of folks getting together to form committees, invite “expert” speakers in to make presentations, write goals and objectives, and plan for the future. But from the beginning, everyone pretty much knows what there is to do. The idea has appeared in its final stage.

This is not how The Dig In! Yancey Community Garden began. A casual remark, an immediate positive response, a lot of good fortune and serendipity, and a huge amount of community support--these are the things that allowed our garden to grow. And grow it has—in ways we could never have imagined.

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Psychic Colonization: Root of Hunger and Poverty Deanne Bell

Deannne Bell

Deanne Bell

When Jane and Larry Levine invited me to write an article for the KIDS Newletter I immediately thanked them for the opportunity to contribute but quickly found myself wondering what I could bring to a community of people whose knowledge of the challenges we face, in abolishing hunger and poverty, far exceed mine. As I thought about why hunger and poverty remain social problems, despite significant inroads made to their erasure, I began to wonder how I have contributed to their persistence. In what ways am I, are we, collectively caught in a refusal to acknowledge and act against root causes of hunger? What if the way in which we understand hunger is part of the problem? Why, despite adequate global food resources, do some people suffer from malnutrition, starvation and famine? Who are the “they” who hunger? What characterizes them in our imaginations? What is my, our, relationship to social structures that keep the end of poverty at bay? How might we act to dismantle these structures?

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