02 May Teaching Kids How Food Gets From the Farm to the Table-Jamie Oliver-Come to Our Food Revolution!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “This is the best field trip EVER” from my Days of Taste kids. For the last seven years, I’ve had the pleasure of directing this amazing program for the American Institute of Wine and Food. We’ve had thousands of 4th and 5th graders through the doors-shopping at the Dallas Farmer’s Market, learning about their taste buds and the difference between salty, sweet, sour, bitter and aromatic. We’ve had thousands of volunteers who give their time to teach the kids the proper way to hold a veggie peeler, the safe way to hold a knife and the proper way to place a napkin in their lap and wait until everyone is served their lunch before they start eating. Chefs, growers, producers, nutritionists, retired teachers, people in the food community, people not in the food community…we all come together to do one thing. Make a difference in a child’s life through the one thing that everybody needs-Food.
We’ve watched these kids transform from shy and timid in the morning to proud, vibrant children in the afternoon. You see, we teach them about food, where its grown, how its farmed, how to wash and prepare it and how to eat it properly. We introduce them to fruits and vegetables they’ve never seen-like cucumbers and kiwi fruit. We give them the tools and the OKAY to do whatever they want with the fruits and veggies they purchase. They make pasta salads, fruit salads, green salads and they all love it. Not necessarily because they taste great, but because they made it themselves. They chose the ingredients and they prepared their own lunch themselves-usually for the first time. They shopped somewhere that didn’t have everything wrapped in plastic or paper or came prepared already. They can’t believe how much food they can get with so little money. Their food isn’t loaded with salt, sugar and fat at Days of Taste. It’s fresh, homemade and proudly served by these kids. They want me and every other adult to taste what THEY made. The pride, the self esteem and the self confidence it immeasurable.
Unfortunately, we can’t measure the % of self esteem, self confidence and pride and translate it into numbers and figures. Sure, we can count how many kids were there, how many pounds of pasta we cooked and how many t-shirts we ordered. But those numbers don’t give us the funding we need to continue this program. If we could capture the numbers of the intangible, we’d be rolling in dough (no pun intented!) as foundations, grant partners, corporations and personal funders would see absolutely no reason not to provide funding for this incredibly unique program. Who doesn’t want a child to succeed? Again, because we can only capture certain numbers, those don’t seem to make the impact needed to receive funds.
The only way to measure it is to see for yourself. There will be no question as to what this program provides for these children. I’d love to invite all of you to come down to the Dallas Farmer’s Market May 3-6 or May 10-13 to see what transpires over the course of a few days. Contact me directly here or go to The American Institute of Wine and Food website and learn more. I promise you will learn something, get a kick out of something and most certainly eat something. It’s a great way to spend the day.