Mayor Bloomberg and TV Personality Rachel Ray Announce New Programs to Programs to Promote Healthy Eating.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MAY 13, 2010
Gardening, Cooking and Nutrition Instruction to Show City Youth How Food is Grown and How to Bring that Food from Garden to Table
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Rachel Ray today announced a series of initiatives to help our City’s youth eat healthier and understand where their food comes from. The new programs, supported by Rachel Ray and her Yum-o! Organization will help schools build a garden or connect them to an existing garden and provide cooking and nutrition instruction to young New Yorkers. The announcement was made next to the vegetable garden at PS 29 in Brooklyn, which the school is using to teach students about healthy eating –in addition to enhancing science and nature curriculums. The Mayor and Rachel Ray were joined by Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, New York State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Patrick Hooker, Deputy Mayor for Heath and Human Services Linda I. Gibbs, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, Food Policy Coordinator Ben Thomases, Community Affairs Commissioner Nazli Parvizi, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City President Megan Sheekey, GrowNYC Executive Director Marcel Van Ooyen, PS 29 Principal Melanie Woods and representatives form community partners including the Sylvia Canter, The Children’s Aid Society and the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.
- “School gardens encourage more young New Yorkers to eat healthier diets and help them understand where their food comes from.” Said Mayor Bloomberg. “From GreenThumb gardens to public housing gardens to countless community gardens, so many New Yorkers are greening our urban landscapes and greening their diets too. Our partnership with Rachel Ray will help children understand how eating fresh food and preparing their own meals can help them to lead longer, healthier lives.”
- “We are very excited to form this public-private partnership with Mayor Bloomberg to help teach New York City youth where food comes from and in turn provide them with encouragement to make healthier choices,” said Ms. Ray. “ In addition to empowering kids to cook and have a healthier relationship with food these programs will also allow us to show kids how the culinary arts can be a positive career path, which is one of the major goals of our Yum-o! Organization.”
- Teaching children about healthy eating and where our food comes from is just as valuable as teaching them how to read and write, “ said Speaker Quinn. “Thanks to groups like Rachel Ray’s Yum-o! Organization, GrowNYC and Green Thumb, we are educating more and more New York City children everyday about the importance of nutritious eating and how and where to grow their own healthy food. The Council has been working to use our food system to create jobs, promote public health, and protect the environment – most recently through our Food Works New York initiative. We look forward to continued partnership on additional community garden efforts, and all of our efforts to help New Yorkers eat healthier.”
- Gardens provide educational opportunities regarding nutrition and cooking, which can have long-term health benefits. Studies show when children grow and prepare their own food, their understanding of the relationship between food and health grows too. Studies also show that positive eating habits begun before 6th grade are more likely to last into adulthood.
- “The school garden initiative is not only teaching our children about the importance of healthy eating, but it’s also providing them with fresh and delicious school-food options,” said Chancellor Klein. “And the gardens aren’t just about eating well. Research shows that school gardens are excellent learning environments, and student exposed to them do better on science. Exams.”
- This spring, a new “Learning Garden” was also constructed in City Hall Park to show children first-hand how food is grown. The garden, which is currently growing snow peas, cabbage, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi, onions, and broccoli, is being tended and used by PS 276 and PS 397 located in the adjacent Tweed Courthouse building. “Learning Garden” has also been created at Randall’s Island and Gracie Mansion, where children from the Stanley Issacs Community Center have been growing vegetables and receiving cooking instruction as a part of “The Growing Place” project.
- Also with support form Rachel Ray; the City is launching cooking and nutritional pilot programs at New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) campuses this summer and fall in partnership with the Sylvia Center and Children’s Aid Society. The goal of these programs is to help young people develop cooking skills, become conscientious consumers and make healthier food choices. In addition, an afterschool program at NYCHA specifically for youth 16-25 will promote not only healthy nutrition, but also introduce food service and culinary arts as potential career paths. This population is a target demographic of the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which seeks to provide youth with innovative education, career exploration, and job training programs.
- “The work of the City’s Food Policy Taskforce has increased access to healthy food in New York City through Green Carts, Healthy Bodegas, and the FRESH program,” said Deputy Mayor Gibbs. “The initiatives announced today are a perfect compliment to this work because they will help promote demand for fresh fruits and vegetable by engaging young people in growing, cooking and tasting them.”
-A recent study by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found that 306 of the 1,600 schools have an interactive growing environment and instructional lessons. This number includes those schools that have outdoor raised gardens or larger urban farm sites. The study finds that barriers to garden creation and survival include limited funding, need for gardening equipment and materials, and a few resources to care for garden over the summer.
The Mayor announced new efforts that will help address these obstacles including:
• Launching a new mini-grant program (grants of $500 - $1,000) this fall for school in need of funds to start a garden.
• Creating a website for school, being designed by GrowNYC, to be launched by this fall with resources including:
• Additional technical assistance provided by GrowNYC and GreenThumb.
• Information on how to locate and connect to local community gardens.
• Complimentary programming provided by City and nonprofit partner.
• Information for teachers on how to incorporate garden instruction into existing curricula to maximize their academic impact.
• Expanding the “Garden to Café” pilot program form 25 schools to more than 50 schools in the 2010 school year. The program’s goal is to connect school gardening and lunch menus through seasonal harvest events and educational activities. PS 29 is one of the initial Garden to Café sites and the school uses what is grown in the garden in its salad bar and to create recipes for special events.
• Start Service will also help coordinate volunteers to care for the gardens.
“We commend New York City and Rachel Ray for a private-public investment in school gardening and food education that will improve the health of our children and New York State agriculture,” said State Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Hooker. “When children grow food and become aware of the importance of local agriculture, we expand opportunities to serve locally-grown foods in schools and most importantly, we increase student consumption of healthy produce.”
There are growing and food learning opportunities even amidst space constraints in our dense city. City schools have already found creative ways to implement gardening projects. Examples of innovative growing projects include PS 364 in the East Village which grows vegetables in converted pickle barrels; PS 146 in Brooklyn which has created a complex composting and rainwater harvesting system to support their thriving garden; and Discovery High School in the Bronx which started a hydroponic growing wall, which was also featured at the announcement. This fall the Edible Schoolyard program also plans to establish roots in New York City and break ground on their first edible garden at PS 216 in Brooklyn.
Stu Loeser//Jason Post - (212) 788- 2958
Charlie Dougiello (Rachel Ray) - (212) 905-6190
Jamie McShane (Speaker Quinn) - (212) 788-7124