American Television persona, chef and author Rachel Ray spoke about healthy eating at Public School 29, in Brooklyn, New York. Together with Mayor Bloomberg, the duo promoted improving lunch menus at elementary schools by using natural produce grown in local gardens.
Rachel Ray will work with the city to develop nutritious lunch menus for schools all over the five boroughs that will be served in over 1,600 public schools in New York City. This initiative is part of her famous Yum-O! program that gives culinary tips for simple dishes for kids of all ages.
Last October, the Department of Education’s Office of School Food partnered up with Ray to develop the menus. Today, Ray announced various initiatives to help schools grow their own gardens, or to connect them with existing ones.
“Having a healthy relationship with food provides a kid with a great self-esteem,” said Ray at the official address. Science school teacher at PS29 Tina Aprea-Reres, recalled that after Rays visit, one of the school children approached her and said, “The garden makes me proud.”
Gardens were planted over two years ago at the public school where Rachel Ray talked about the nutritious meals. At Public School 29, the planting, harvesting and eating of garden grown tomatoes and herbs has become a yearly practice.
The school has developed a whole system of collecting basil and making pesto in September, and then freezing it for the months of January and February when the school cafeteria uses it to dress pasta dishes. All of the harvest goes directly to the cooks, where the produce gets washed, assembled and served in the salad bar, or gets used for other meals where applicable.
Aprea-Reres explained that the process is something the kids get really excited about. They always look forward to eating veggies they grew themselves, she said. The garden is also a great tool for teaching science, Aprea-Reres enthused.
“We’re using the garden to teach about insects; it’s a great science lab!”