50 Chicago “Welcoming Schools” to Get Learning Gardens To Teach Nutrition

(Chicago) – Up to 50 “Learning Gardens” will be installed in Chicago Public Schools welcoming students from closed schools starting this summer.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett

Barbara Byrd-Bennett

A total of 80 learning gardens will be installed in CPS schools across the city.

Organized and implemented by the nonprofit organization The Kitchen [Community] (TKC), the gardens bring together parents, teachers, and community organizations to support student learning and provide students with hands-on nutrition and science education opportunities.

“These Learning Gardens will provide our students in ’welcoming schools‘ with hands-on education opportunities in science and nutrition that they otherwise would not have,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

In December 2012, Emanuel announced that $1 million in NATO legacy funds would go toward supporting the development of Learning Gardens at 60 CPS schools.

“Installing these Learning Gardens as an additional resource at up to 50 welcoming schools will give many students the hands-on education experience they might not otherwise have,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

TKC has worked with the Chicago philanthropic and business community to raise the funding to support 20 additional gardens for a total of 80. Thirty of these gardens will be installed this spring, and the remaining 50 will be installed in schools throughout the summer and fall for use starting in the fall.

“I want to thank Mayor Emanuel and the City of Chicago for coming together around the concept of Learning Gardens as a solution for outdoor garden-based learning,” said Chef and The Kitchen Community co-founder Kimbal Musk. “Learning Gardens are easy, affordable and scalable, and we’re thrilled to be planting more of them here in Chicago.”

The Kitchen Community has installed 14 gardens at CPS schools. These early TKC projects were jump-started with partnerships in Chicago’s business and philanthropic community, including JPMorgan Chase.

“Last year’s Pilot Program yielded incredible results – children increased their likability of vegetables by 50% and there was a doubling of home gardens started by parents,” said Musk. “We are thrilled for this next round of Learning Gardens 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, 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.

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