Cooking in the Outdoor Classroom…with Kaiser’s Support!



One of the most pressing issues facing our children and communities today is the obesity epidemic.   In San Francisco, as in other areas throughout the country, the obesity epidemic disproportionately impacts low-income communities. Among low-income San Francisco youth ages 5-19, 43% are overweight or obese according to the San Francisco Childhood Obesity Task Force.  The city’s Latino and African American children have the highest rates of obesity, at 28.3% and 24.6% respectively. Furthermore, in San Francisco, only 25% of kids eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day, as reported by the 2009 California Health Interview Survey.

We believe that we can change these statistics, and with Kaiser’s support, we are going to put our beliefs into action.

18 Reasons is honored to be part of Education Outside’s Grounds for Healthy Kids Project, which just won a $20,000 grant from Kaiser Foundation Hospitals! Over the past year, we have developed a cooking and gardening curriculum together called Cooking the Common Core, which we can now fully implement in ten San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools , thanks to this support from KFH. We couldn’t be more excited!!

Launched in Spring 2012 in partnership with 18 Reasons, Cooking the Common Core is the first SFUSD teacher training series to promote garden-based cooking in order to inspire kids to prepare and eat healthy food.  This new garden-based cooking series, geared towards 4th and 5th grade teachers and outdoor educators, is focused on using the art and science of cooking to teach the new Common Core academic standards.  As we have discovered, cooking is a fun and creative way to bring subjects such as math to life for students and teachers in their green schoolyards, all while instilling a love for growing and preparing healthy food.

The Cooking the Common Core pilot workshops took place in Spring 2012 and were a huge hit among the 48 teacher participants, with 100% of participants reporting increased knowledge of outdoor classroom teaching techniques, ecological concepts, and confidence in implementing the Cooking the Common Core standards-based content.  One participant remarked, “This training was extraordinary!  Great content, inspiring, well-delivered, exceeded my expectations.  I will teach both lessons in the near future.”

In 2013, we look forward to offering three Cooking the Common Core workshops aligned with English language arts and math Common Core Standards, and expect to serve approximately
60 teachers in SFUSD.  We will be serving some of San Francisco’s most under-served children.  The initiative’s target population includes 4,000 students, 200 teachers, and 5,000 parents from the following San Francisco public schools: ER Taylor (Portola); Bret Harte (Bayview-Hunters Pt.); Fairmount (Bernal Heights); Buena Vista/Horace Mann K-8 (Mission); Hillcrest (Excelsior); Jefferson (Inner Sunset); Sanchez (Mission District); New Traditions (Western Addition); Alvarado (Noe Valley); and Sherman Elementary (Marina/Cow Hollow).

I’ll be leading the 2013 workshops along with Joyce Lin- Conrad and Rachel Pringle of Education Outside , who together have more than a decade of experience teaching and developing cooking-related garden programming for youth. Each stand-alone workshop will provide teachers with all of the skills, lesson plans, inspiration, and supplies needed to implement two basic cooking lessons with their students in the garden classroom. At the end of the workshops, each teacher or team of teachers will receive a cooking kit to bring back to their school. The kits will contain the majority of the equipment, tools, and non-perishable supplies needed to execute the outdoor cooking lessons with a class of 20 students. Equipment and tools include a portable stove, cutting boards, knives, vegetable peelers, graters, and mixing bowls.

Want to join in on all this fun? We could use more support for Cooking the Common Core and the rest of our youth programming including culinary career courses at the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco,  career readiness mentorship with NextCourse and cooking and gardening summer camps at the Sanchez School.  To donate please click here and thank you!



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