(Chicago) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sunday that leftover NATO Summit money will support the development of learning gardens at 60 schools in communities across Chicago, a move that drew approval and advice from a top chronic disease nutrition group in Chicago.
The gardens will receive $1 million.
“Mayor Emanuel’s initial Learning Gardens investment is a valuable step in the nutrition education for Chicago school children, and if he can invest $1 million annually in the project, the children will truly reap a long-term nutrition benefit that matters,” said Deborah Hinde, Chief Healthcare Strategist, Vital Bridges Center on Chronic Care, a program of Heartland Health Outreach, Inc.
The mayor says the initiative, organized and implemented by the nonprofit organization The Kitchen Community, will help to provide students with hands-on nutrition and science education opportunities.
The Kitchen Community has installed six gardens in Chicago this past spring and eight additional gardens this fall. These early TKC projects were jump-started with partnerships in Chicago’s business and philanthropic community, including JPMorgan Chase.
“The role of JPMorgan Chase in the launch of the Chicago Learning Gardens needs to be applauded,” said Hinde.
Hinde also urges that the children and families in nutrition-challenged neighborhoods be the primary beneficiaries.
“Moreover, providing the vegetables harvested from the gardens to the children and their families at an affordable price will yield the greatest possible nutrition benefit from the initiative,” said Hinde.
CPS schools will individually apply to TKC for installation of a learning garden, and TKC evaluates these applications based on capacity, intent to integrate the garden into the school’s academic curriculum and other factors.
“Chicago has really come together around the concept of Learning Gardens as a solution for outdoor garden-based learning,” said Chef and TKC co-founder Kimbal Musk. “Learning Gardens are easy, affordable and scalable, and we’re thrilled to be planting them here in Chicago.”
Learning Gardens have been installed at the following schools:
Ruiz Elementary, Benito Juarez Community Academy High School, Jonathan Burr Elementary, Mildred I. Lavizzo Elementary, Carter G. Woodson South Elementary, Sir Miles Davis Magnet Elementary Academy, Dawes Elementary, Nathanael Greene Elementary, Carl von Linne Elementary, Southside Occupational, Paul Laurence Dunbar Career Academy High School, Neal F Simeon Career Academy High School, Oliver S. Westcott Elementary, and Robert L. Grimes Elementary School.
TKC has partnered with Chicago non-profits Openlands and Common Threads to work with schools and teachers to create innovative, school-by-school approaches to incorporate the gardens into student learning.