Bronx Students Growing New Eating Habits
NY1's Health & Fitness reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report on a new school foods program that encourages kids to cook up something new, but with an emphasis on keeping it "green."
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From tasting to perfecting the way to chop garlic, mixing and adding seasoning, some eighth graders at Bronx Green Middle School are not just getting any cooking lesson.
The Sylvia Center based in SoHo, where children learn about healthy eating through hands-on cooking classes, is moving its way inside of schools. Students at Bronx Green are the first to have the movable feast come to them, where the school cafeteria becomes their kitchen.
Bringing in fresh vegetables and other produce from the center's nearby Katchkie Farm, located about an hour outside the city, kids are encouraged to eat sustainable and locally-grown foods.
"It's an amazing experience and it is really a heart-warming opportunity to be able to do this because not many schools have the chance to do this," said eighth-grader Marios Staka.
The program also has the kids doing a bit of their own farming with a garden in the school yard. In fact, the students have been growing herbs, fruits and vegetables in the garden for three years.
Culinary experts from the Sylvia Center say it's a great way of bringing the idea of farm-to-table eating to life.
"For a lot of kids, discovering the natural environment right where they live, even if it is here in the Bronx or Upper Manhattan or Downtown Manhattan, is really important," said Sylvia Center Executive Director Laura Stanley, "because it is so urban here. We want children to understand that food comes from farms and food from local farms is a very good thing."
By also using some of their own fresh ingredients, students learn about healthy food through discovering what's in the garden...and trying new foods they normally would have never tried. On their current menu is a sweet potato and green pea ravioli in parmesan broth, served with a fresh green salad and classroom-made vinaigrette.
"The food I usually eat is like McDonald's, Burger King," said student Danielle Edwards. "But this is more healthy and it is actually good."
The students' teacher, who is the school garden coordinator, agrees that through the lessons they are learning in the kitchen and garden, the kids are well on their way to changing the ways they think about food.
"I think one of the most powerful lessons is it can come right from your back yard and it is something you can actually do for yourself," said teacher Kelly McLane.
The Sylvia Center hopes to expand their "Sylvia Center in the Classroom" program to more schools