Melissa Mellor

Whole Child in the News: One City's Attempt to Reinvent the School Lunch

"You cannot have the expectation that a teacher can teach if the kid is hungry or jacked up on sugar. My job is to put healthy kids in front of teachers so they can teach," says Tony Geraci, Baltimore City Public Schools' new food service director, in a recent Washington Post article.

Geraci is backing up his words with actions. He's created Great Kids Farm, a 33-acre farm with greenhouses; a vegetable garden and orchard; and pigs, chickens, and goats. The farm helps kids learn about where food comes from, teaches them about career opportunities, and will help jumpstart school gardens throughout the city. Geraci plans to launch three student-run restaurants—called Great Kids Café—that will serve the farm's produce. Grants from Baltimore's office of career and technical education will pay students to manage the restaurants.

And the food service director hasn't forgotten about school lunches. He's prioritizing the use of local food suppliers to provide kids with fresh food at reasonable prices. He's also building student buy-in. Geraci asks middle school students to help design menus or create music playlists that match the ethnic theme of a menu. In elementary schools, cafeterias are offering sample cups filled with healthy fruits and veggies that kids may never have had before and could be hesitant to try. Kids earn stars for each bite they sample and might even find a new favorite food in the process.

Some of the city's schools have already begun their own efforts to teach kids about healthy food. Students at Baltimore's Barclay Elementary School, one of ASCD's 11 Healthy School Communities pilot sites, have been growing their own food in earth boxes and raised bed gardens. They've used the produce to create healthy meals for themselves.

Watch a video about Barclay's efforts.

We'd like to hear from you! What has your school done to teach students about healthy food and provide them with nutritious school meals?

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