40th Anniversary Celebrations For Chez PanisseThu 25 Aug 2011
Story by Alexandra Perloff-Giles
It’s been an exciting time at Chez Panisse and at the Edible Schoolyard! When Alice Waters and her friends started Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California forty years ago, they had no idea it would spark a revolution in the way Americans think about food.
All amateur cooks, they weren’t thinking about a philosophy of organic and sustainable food. They were simply looking for flavor in a nation that was turning increasingly to fast food. That quest, however, led them embrace local, seasonal ingredients, and over the past four decades, Chez Panisse has built a remarkable network of local farmers, dairymen, fishermen, and foragers that supply the restaurant daily with organic produce.
Driven by her belief that good food should be a universal right and not a privilege, on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the restaurant, Alice Waters turned her attention to improving the way American children eat. She tore up the parking lot of a public school near Chez Panisse and laid the ground of the first Edible Schoolyard—a one-acre organic garden and kitchen classroom at Martin Luther King, Jr Middle School.
Since then, the Edible Schoolyard model has taken off, with official affiliates at the San Francisco Boys & Girls Club at the Willie Mays Clubhouse in San Francisco’s Hunters Point, Larchmont Charter School in Los Angeles, Samuel J. Green Charter School in New Orleans, the Greensboro Children’s Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Arturo Toscanini Elementary School in Brooklyn, New York, as well as hundreds of sister programs in diverse communities around the country.
In addition to giving kids an opportunity to grow and cook their own food, the Chez Panisse Foundation also sought to reform school lunch. In 2005, the foundation worked with the Berkeley Unified School District to ensure that all students in the Berkeley school system have access to healthy, freshly cooked meals with produce purchased from local farms.
This month, the Chez Panisse Foundation is relaunching as the Edible Schoolyard Project and will expand its reach with a mission to build and share a national curriculum for edible education. Through a new online initiative, the Edible Schoolyard Project will offer school garden, kitchen, and lunch programs a platform to share lesson plans and best practices. The site will also feature an interactive map to demonstrate the growing impact of the movement, as well as an online community for families and educators to connect with one another.
The full site will launch in October, but check out www.edibleschoolyard.org for a sneak peak at our new vision and to sign up to join the edible education movement.
You can also follow @edibleschoolyrd on Twitter or like The Edible Schoolyard on Facebook.
Together, the Edible Schoolyard Project and Jamie’s Food Revolution, as well as all the school garden, kitchen, and lunch programs scattered across America, can change the way this country eats, one student at a time.
About the author: Alexandra Perloff-Giles is a Communications intern at Chez Panisse Foundation and Blogger at The Huffington Post.
Photograph of Alice (bottom right) by Brigitte Lacombe
For more information on the celebrations visit their site.
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