What Can You Learn From Lunch?

What can you learn from lunch?

"It doesn't matter where your food comes from, until you have enough of it."
-Sarah Adams Kollitz, Executive Director of the Burlington Children's Space

"The couscous and the corn and the beans all mixed up together is delicious!"
-4 year old girl at lunch

Some kids like the corner table. The one by the biggest, brightest window in the kitchen. They prefer to sit with their backs to it, sunlight streaming over their shoulders. The better to take in all the action. And there is a lot of action. Three tables full of preschoolers, three teachers, and me. Sixteen people in all, talking and eating in a kitchen not too much bigger than one in an average home.

There is lively conversation, led by kids and supported by teachers. What's gone on so far this morning? What's on the table? What's the best way to get something you want passed to you quickly? What do you think of the veggies? What do you think will happen next in the story we're reading at rest time? Are there any more apples?

Skills are practiced. Taking turns. Taking what you need. Watching what your classmates do and listening to what they say.

Some kids need time to learn that there will be enough food for everyone at lunch,  though they are sitting next to kids who never have and probably never will worry about food and its availability. Some kids have to learn that they don't have to take every apple slice in the bowl when it comes to them, because there are more apples. It's taken them time to learn that at our school there are enough apples for everyone to have as many slices as they like. That I will keep refilling the bowl until everybody's belly is full.  The corner table kids know that now, and they take their time at lunch. Eating slowly, trying new things, taking a few apples and then, later, taking a few more.

We care deeply about kids. 

 And we care about real, good food. We know that many kids consume the majority of their meals in childcare. As we dig deeper into our work with kids and food it has become clear that preparing and serving kids healthy, homemade food as part of an intentional, child-centered, community-based curriculum is a unique way to proactively work on some big ideas with our humble lunch program.  

A story...
On his first trip to the BCS garden plot to pick veggies for lunch a boy who was new to our preschool noticed a bunch of beautiful ripe cherry tomatoes, and asked his teacher what they were. When she explained that they were tomatoes, edible and delicious, the boy picked as many as he could and ate them all at once.  He was amazed that there was food everywhere he looked in the garden, and everyone wasn't just eating it on the spot. Saving and sharing weren't part of his experiences with food, yet. 
On the next garden trip a week or so later there were more tomatoes to pick and this time the same boy carried bunches of the bright veggies back to school to share,  kissing them as he walked. 

We can fill an urgent physical, developmental need for the kids who come to us from places of food insecurity simply by feeding them every day. By consistently offering them food - as much as they need  consistently each day - we're providing not just the calories and nutrients they need to grow and develop, but also security. Food security. This is a biggie because when kids realize they can depend on meals, that they don't have to worry about being hungry during the day, they relax. They are suddenly free to explore their environment. They are able to get down to the business of engaging and exploring our school. And at our school we are working to connect the ideas of food, community, and caring for the natural world.

 We garden, and we glean produce from our local farms. We send extra produce home whenever we can. Teachers and children take ownership of composting food and paper towels. We host our family dinners to bring BCS families together around healthy food.  So, we are filling hungry bellies, yes. But we're also supporting kids as they learn how to live, work, play, rest and eat together. To take care of each other, to make healthy choices for themselves, and those around them. To feel their importance in their school, their community, and the world.

Here's the thing...
We're proud of our work, but we think we can do even more. We can make the program more accessible, keep our costs in line, and raise the quality of the food we serve. We don't need a lot, but raising some money would help us get our hands on some equipment that would allows us to use more local food, make more of our own food from scratch, and preserve more of what we make.
So we're starting a Kitchen Campaign! Our goal is $5000 to cover the cost of some kitchen upgrades. Specifically we'd love a freezer, an immersion blender, some planters and soil for growing herbs and greens in the kitchen, and lots of large mason jars for preserving and canning.
We're going to let folks know about it at our Family Dinner next week on the 20th. Look for a post and more photos then, and info on how you can donate or get involved.
And thanks.
We love what we do.


  1. This is great news! What a lovely piece.
    The work you all do there is so important I cannot wait to donate! Go BCS!!!

  2. Erinn,

    Thank you for all the ways you create security for our little ones. I only hope that soon I will be back involved with a group of people as dedicated, and whole-hearted as the one's who work at BCS (at which point I will have money to donate...)

    Keep up the good work!