Did you know that the Baltimore City Public Schools have gone meatless in their cafeterias every Monday? What is happening in the city schools’ food service department is nothing short of a revolution. In recent months, I have read and heard so much good news about all that is going on there that I am constantly doing mental double-takes. So just what is it they are doing?
The city schools, as part of the Meatless Monday initiative associated with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, are serving exclusively meat-free meals in their cafeterias every Monday. Baltimore City was one of the first school districts in the entire country to become a Meatless Monday school.
Not only is the food meatless one day per week, but on that day it is all prepared freshly on site. This alone is a huge step forward from the usual frozen, convenience foods that are typically served in school cafeterias.
Tony Geraci, the city school’s director of food and nutrition, has made it his mission to get kids invested in what they eat. He has brought Food For Life to the schools, a program that teaches kids about food through farming, cooking and nutrition education. His vision for how children should be taught about food and nutrition, according to an article in the Baltimore City Paper: “…every school district running its own farm, growing vegetables in gardens next to the schools, cooking inside, kids helping along, despite the boiling water and oils, everything hands-on, immersive, all-sensory, delicious. Geraci envisions schools everywhere in which “it’s just as important to have a food and nutrition coordinator as a math teacher.””
Did you know that the city school system owns a working farm in Catonsville, Great Kids Farm, complete with greenhouses, goats and beehives? The farm produces tons of produce that is used by the schools and is a place where the school children can go for actual hands-on experience. How cool is that?!
The fact that all this has occurred in the same city that’s known for its high rates of poverty, crime and murder makes what is happening all the more amazing. Something to ponder as I send my kids off to chicken nugget day (fruit rollup or Doritos with those nuggets?) at their school in the county.