FRESHFARM's food education program in partnership with DC Public Schools

FoodPrints is an education project of FRESHFARM that integrates gardening, cooking, and nutrition education into the curriculum at partner elementary schools. Watch the FoodPrints video to see our program in action. 

A Day of FoodPrints at SWS - by Jenn Mampara

At each of our participating schools we have designed FoodPrints classes in ways that work to best support the unique needs of the school. At Watkins and Ludlow-Taylor, our students participate monthly in 2 hour sessions. At Tyler, teachers sign up for FoodPrints as it fits into their schedules and as they enter units of study that are well supported with experiences in the garden and through cooking. At Peabody Early Childhood Campus our youngest learners have two sessions per month: one that focuses on gardening and growing, and one that focuses on food and cooking. Because we ask classroom teachers to participate and also need many parent volunteers to support the hands-on, materials-intensive learning experiences we offer, we think of our lessons as "field trips" that don’t require travel off the school grounds.  We try to capture all the wonderful aspects of a field trip: the excitement of a special day, an opportunity to engage in a focused study of a particular topic, authentic interactions with the world around us — and none of the challenges that so many field trips present, like expensive transportation, permissions slips, and bag lunches.

SWS (School Within School) faculty opted this year to try out a unique model for FoodPrints with their students. Each class dedicates one day per month to a “FoodPrints In-School Field Trip.” The morning is spent with the classroom teacher participating and parent/family volunteers supporting our teaching staff. Students are able to work in small groups, and generally spend time rotating through work in the garden and multiple work stations in the classroom. The culmination of their morning work is lunch for the entire class, which they enjoy together in the Food Lab. After recess, the classroom teacher returns to her/his classroom, and smaller groups of students rotate in and out of the Food Lab to finish up project work from the morning, write reflections in their FoodPrints journals, and to paste the recipes they enjoyed that day into their journals. Using this model, we have found that at the end of the day everyone goes home happy, full of delicious food, and having enjoyed the opportunity to engage deeply with the garden and cooking free of the need to rush.

Students harvest hardy winter vegetables like kale.

The ageless wonder of pulling carrots from the soil.

The rest of the morning was spent cooking and discussing food waste, food distribution around the world, and participating in a simulated “Hunger Banquet,” which was a memorable experience for all involved.

After preparing their own nutritious meal of sweet potato-black bean burritos with a side of sauteed kale, students dug in and relished every bite. The kale and sweet potatoes came directly from our school garden. For an afternoon snack, we had simple yogurt parfaits with apples, maple syrup & cinnamon.

Our afternoon was spent with Brooke Hartman from the Sustainability and Energy Division of DGS who brought the supplies we needed to conduct a waste audit of our cafeteria.  It was a messy job, but students had aprons and gloves, and were very surprised by what they found.

They still had time to work in journals, recording the results of their cafeteria study, and reflecting on what was found. We enjoyed our nutritious snack together, and students went home with a letter describing our work that day to their families and all the recipes we prepared.