Our organic lunch program is about to begin a new era. Rather than having lunches brought to us, we will be making them ourselves, and involving the children as much as possible in the preparation, serving, and communal eating of the meals we provide.
Our children love to cook! The bake sale last Thursday is a wonderful example of what happens when they get inspired. They baked breads, cakes, custards and cookies from different cultures and traditions, and sold them to benefit children at the Alpha House shelter. They were passionate about what they were doing, took it very seriously, were proud of their work and their cause, and were dedicated cooks, organizers, and salespeople. Now they will take the $70+ they made on the sale, and use it to buy holiday gifts for homeless children. This coming week they will complete the overall project by making multicultural holiday ornaments, cutting down a holiday tree (generously donated by Braun's Farm), setting up the tree and decorating it at the Alpha House, and leaving their bake sale gifts beneath the tree for the children.
The power that our students feel when they are able to do something so effective for others, and to use their skills and time to such clear good purpose, is palpable. They glow with it. They move and speak with authority and resolution. And, especially where cooking is concerned, they have so much fun! So, from here on, we will be enlisting their help in cooking lunches, and we will be serving the lunches family-style, to enjoy the community spirit that comes from a job well done and good food to share. The children have been great at cleaning up after meals for some time; now they will have the chance to cook and serve the meals also. We will also have occasional after-care shopping field trips to local ethnic grocery stores, and to the Food Coop, where the children can buy local organic produce, sugar, flour, and other bulk foods. When spring comes, we will make some trips to the Farmer's Market on Wednesday mornings.
If you have any thoughts as to meals you would like to see on our lunch menu, please share! We want to reflect the cultures and lifestyles of the many different families in our community - we want to try recipes from all around the world, as well as experiment with regional American recipes, vegetarian and vegan, and regular gluten-free meals to enable all our children to participate. And if you would like to come in and help cook, and be an honored guest for the meal, you would be very welcome! We would be delighted to have you there.
Please remember, we will only be able to cook food that is peanut and tree-nut free, so please bear that in mind as you share your favorite recipes.