Bridging the Gap
This fall, seventh graders are learning about food waste and food insecurity as part of their service learning curriculum. Students kicked off the experience by discussing the purpose of service, its connection to the mission and core values of the School, and the tenets of Fay’s Service Learning Program: empathy, purpose, and connection.
To learn more about the issues of food waste and insecurity, seventh graders have been hearing from experts at local nonprofits who are creating innovative distribution channels to make fresh and healthy food more accessible to those in need. Presenters included Boston Area Gleaners, which harvests excess farm produce for food banks and pantries; Food For Free, which rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and distributes it within Boston-area communities; and the Southborough Food Fridge, a new local initiative to share food with members of our community who may be experiencing food disruption or insecurity. Students learned that the focus of many food access initiatives has shifted away from canned and packaged goods traditionally found in food pantries and increasingly toward making healthy, fresh produce available. Organizations like Food For Free are coming up with food distribution models to make access to healthy food convenient. These include their Weekend Backpack Program that sends students home for the weekend with healthy foods and School Markets where families can pick up fresh produce when picking up their children from school.
On October 19, students will explore these issues in person when they spend the day working at several nearby organizations, including Chestnut Hill Farm, Community Harvest Project, and Food For Free. Experiential learning has long been an essential component of service learning at Fay. Service Learning Coordinator Craig Ferraro is particularly excited about returning to that aspect of the program this year. “Getting out and seeing these issues up close is so important,” he says. “When you see the food at its source, it’s no longer an abstract idea. A lot of work goes into growing and harvesting every vegetable on your plate, so that will add a lot of value to the student experience this year.”
Finally, students will channel all they have learned this term into a capstone design challenge in their Creators Class. They will spend several weeks designing a solution to an aspect of food waste or insecurity that they learned about this fall.