Chefs Make Change: Alice Waters for the Edible Schoolyard Project
For more than 40 years, Alice Waters has been one of America’s strongest voices for sustainable, healthy eating. Now, the tireless food educator takes her message to the country’s public schools with the Edible Schoolyard Project.
The Edible Schoolyard Project works to get an “edible education” into public schools through hands-on experience in school kitchens, gardens and lunchrooms. It also funds the Edible Schoolyard Berkeley, a one-acre garden and kitchen classroom at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, aimed at teaching kids to make healthy food choices and connecting them with the community and the environment. There are now six Edible Schoolyards across the country. edibleschoolyard.org.
On Starting the Edible Schoolyard “I kept passing the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School on my way to and from Chez Panisse, and I was struck by the neglect—the broken windows, the general feeling that no one was paying attention. And I thought, What happened? Berkeley’s public schools used to be No. 1 in the state, and we’re down at 47.” Today, the King school is ranked eighth.
Master Plan “From day one, I knew I wanted Edible Education in all the public-school systems in the US, from kindergarten through high school. Somebody said to me, ‘You mean have EE, like PE?’ and I thought, Yes!”
Proud Moment “Two high school kids who graduated from King came to the garden while I was there with a reporter, and I was sort of nervous because the reporter began asking them questions and I had no idea what they would say. ‘We’ve come back to see how the garden’s growing,’ they told us. I said, ‘Why don’t you plant a garden at the high school?’ And they said, ‘We already have gardens at home.’ It was amazing.”
What’s Next “These programs are happening all over the country. We’re creating a website to collect everybody’s best practices and make them accessible to all.”
Her Recipes for F&W I chose food that is nutritious and that kids really like.“Kids like hummus,” says chef Alice Waters, “and they like to make the little flatbreads and heat them like tortillas; the whole process is irresistible, and the price is practically nonexistent.” That’s also true for the squash soup: It’s both affordable and really good for you.”