The Food Project: Youth. Food. Community.

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School Partnership Program

What is the School Partnership Program at The Food Project?

The School Partnership curriculum enriches the classroom experience by using The Food Project gardens and kitchen as tools for hands-on learning. Students gain a firsthand understanding of environmental, health-related, and social, issues by immersing themselves in interdisciplinary, hands-on activities. The School Partnership program is a unique opportunity for students to do real purposeful work while seamlessly connecting with service learning in their community, food systems and our relationship to food and land (where our food comes from), and academic areas such as math, science, and social studies. The program invites students to farms in their neighborhood and ties into Massachusetts standards for science – teaching third graders about plant biology and life cycles in a tangible way.



A Young Person’s Secret Garden…Endless Possibilities for Learning

It is mid-October and Mrs. Scheer’s class of fourth graders from Emerson Elementary School in Dorchester has returned to the Langdon Street lot in Dorchester to unearth and harvest potatoes they planted last spring. In the spring, they had turned a bed of soil where they had grown lettuce and prepared the bed for planting potatoes. They learned that potatoes, part of the tuber family, are an underground stem that stores food. Mrs. Scheer’s class is a bilingual group of students from Cape Verde. One boy explains to his fellow student in Creole that she must find a dead plant and big mound of soil in order to locate her potatoes under the ground. Laughter and squeals of joy are heard in the lot as each student pulls out one…two…three…large potatoes from the ground and gently places them in a plastic container. Although the potatoes and the students’ hands are dirty, they are brimming with excitement to cook their potatoes the following week at The Food Project kitchen in Dorchester.



Cooking at The Food Project’s Kitchen

The following week the Emerson fourth graders run to the front door of The Food Project’s Dorchester office with great anticipation. They are coming to cook their potatoes. As the students enter the office, they are welcomed by The Food Project staff. Staff ask students how to act in a kitchen, and the students shout out suggestions: "Don't run in the kitchen, especially with sharp knives! Listen to the adults for instructions and wash your hands thoroughly before working with food!"


The Emerson students enter the kitchen and go to their food preparation stations after cleaning their hands. On the menu today: rosemary mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, and herb roasted potatoes. Cammy asks “What part of the plant is this?” “A TUBER” comes the enthusiastic reply. Patrick points out the roots as he chops up an onion, and Danny gathers the potato peels into a pile “This is for the compost, to give the plants nutrients”. Monica asks “if the recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon salt, and we already used 1/2 teaspoon in the water, how much is left?” Students screw their faces in thought, and finally measure out 3/4 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon, and get to measure out the answer, giving subtraction real meaning.


After peeling, chopping, measuring, boiling, mixing potatoes and other ingredients, the young chefs gather around a table and dine on a sampling of all three dishes with some sweet organic apple cider to wash their palates. Bon appetite! Before leaving The Food Project kitchen, the Emerson students get copies of the potato recipes that they prepared that day and with much enthusiasm they are excited to show off their cooking talents to their parents.


To see a day in the School Partnership garden and The Food Project kitchen, look on your local PBS station’s schedule for the Arthur Show episode "Buster’s Green Thumb".



History of the School Partnership Program

The Food Project’s School Partnership program started in 2000, as a collaborative relationship between The Food Project and three schools in the Dorchester neighborhood, Emerson Elementary School, Mason Elementary School and Clap Elementary School. School Partnerships gives students hands-on knowledge of where their food comes from at a young age, letting them grow and cook food for themselves. The program works with third and fourth graders in our urban garden on Langdon Street during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year. The Food Project also works with the Lincoln Public School kindergarteners, bringing corn into classrooms in the fall and inviting all 80 students to the 31-acre Lincoln farm in the spring, when they get to pick potato beetles off plants, tour the greenhouse and beehives, and plant a row of sunflowers.  


To learn more about the School Partnership program please contact Kathleen Banfield, (617) 442-1322 x12.

The Food Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit.

Tax ID: 04-3262532


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