FoodPrints Afterschool: Extending learning, cooking and gardening beyond the school day
In 2019, FRESHFARM launched its first FoodPrints Afterschool program at Kimball, Marie Reed, and Burroughs elementary schools. FRESHFARM’s FoodPrints program received a grant from Learn24 which is administered by the United Way of the National Capital Area. The grant is used to support students in an after school FoodPrints program in which they cook, garden, and learn together. FoodPrints Afterschool provides opportunities for students to engage in hands-on science, math, social studies, and literacy lessons beyond the school day. Here are some highlights from our first few months of Foodrints Afterschool:
- Pizza and geography: During a recent session, students learned about the origins of pizza. Students discussed how the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Italy contributed to the creation of soil conditions that were just right for growing wheat, tomatoes, and basil, making important connections between food and geography. Students then prepared their own pizzas with veggie toppings. At pick-up time, a student encouraged his mother and siblings to stay to learn how to make pizza too. The student felt proud to teach his family members something new, and his mother was thrilled to see her child so immersed and engaged in hands-on learning.
- Worms and soil health: As part of a hands-on science lesson on soil health and plant growth, students studied a worm habitat. They observed worms moving through the soil and discussed ways that worms help plants grow. One student astutely observed, “When the worm crawls, it leaves a little hole in the dirt. I bet a plant can go there.”
- Inventions and leadership: During a lesson about inventions, students used hand-held grain mills to grind corn kernels into flour, and then prepared tortillas for tacos using their homemade cornmeal. In a great act of leadership, the first group of students that made the tortillas then taught a second group of students how to make tortillas. The students demonstrated independence and autonomy during this student-to-student teaching moment.
- Delicious and nutritious birthday celebration: In the spirit of building community, students celebrated a fellow student’s birthday by preparing a feast of Bean & Veggie Chili as well as Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread. The students took the recipes home to teach their families all about these delicious and nutritious birthday treats.
FoodPrints Afterschool centers its philosophy and activities around positive youth development. We provide students a safe space and a variety of opportunities to build a sense of identity, well-being, and connection to community — as well as new skills and knowledge. Reflected by a recent comment from one of our students: “Teamwork!” she said as she asked for help from her peers while cooking.