As part of their excellent series on school lunches, The New York Times today profiles Harlem's Promise Academy.
Schools across the country are experimenting with healthier food, but as one expert quoted by the Times points out, this may be the most aggressive effort anywhere. At the Promise Academy, kids who had never had a fresh peach or raspberry are suddenly being offered lunch that is thick with local zucchini and swiss chard. There is no soda, and snacks consist of fresh local fruit.
One child, named Ebony, is quoted saying this: "I was like, 'I don't want to eat that.' But I had to, because there was nothing else. Then it was like, 'This is good.'"
Thanks to an aggressive stance from school developer Geoffrey Canada, the culinary talents of chef Andrew Benson, and a food budget that is slightly inflated thanks to grants and donations, the effort seems to be paying off. The article includes anecdotes about children who didn't know what swiss chard was a year ago asking their parents to buy some to eat at home. There are even cooking classes for the whole family. One school parent, who is a diabetic, says she is thrilled her children are learning a new way to eat.