At Whittier Elementary, students are learning that food starts with a seed, which says a mouthful about their future.
The green leaves of sprouted kale and sorrel peeking out of Xavier Mansfield's bagel set him apart. Most of the 10-year-old's fellow students eating breakfast at Whittier International Elementary School had opted for the basic cream cheese bagel, or went straight for the muffins and scones.
"He's been eating this way forever," said his mom, Tatiana Borg, as Xavier, his mouth full, only nodded. (Thank you, Xavier.)
Whittier, in partnership with nearby Common Roots Cafe, is aiming to inspire more of its students to eat foods grown locally, and even to grow their own food. At a community breakfast last week, kids learned how to plant their own microgreens in a paper cup. Given a sunny window and timely watering, they could bolster the salad for their family's dinner.
"We're trying to build a buzz around what passes for a healthy school breakfast," said Tara Davenport of the school's PTA. "But we also want to make them aware of local farmers and local foods, even as we're learning about global citizenship." Whittier is one of only two authorized International Baccalaureate elementary schools in Minneapolis. Among other goals, the program seeks to improve relations among the world's cultures by increasing students' knowledge of what it means to interact on a planet with finite resources.
Common Roots Cafe, just a few blocks west of the school at 2558 Lyndale Av. S., provided the baked goods, made from scratch with local, organic or fair-trade ingredients, while Peace Coffee brought the caffeine and DragSmith Farms of Barron, Wis., supplied the greens. Cafe owner Danny Schwartzman said the community breakfasts are a great way to take what the students learn "and actually see it in action."
Maurice and Gail Smith of DragSmith Farms showed kids how to plant seeds, to help them realize that this is how food actually begins. Sean Dlugosch, in the pre-K program, was game, chomping on a pea shoot, looking up at his mother and announcing that it tasted "like peas!" Therese Dlugosch said the family is going to plant a vegetable garden this summer, "so we've been asking the boys what they want in it."
Add peas to the list.
Kim Ode • 612-673-7185