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Chef Alice Waters' Passion Lies In Creating An Edible Education

The Edible Schoolyard Project, facebook

A trio of luminaries of the local, accessible for all, food movement are assembling in Milwaukee Friday evening as part of Growing Power’s Urban and Small Farms Conference.

Its founder Will Allen will take the stage with Ron Finley, who leads a urban garden and education movement in Los Angeles.

Chef, author and food activist Alice Waters completes the trio. Waters is founder of the famous restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

She says it was important to her to be part of the Milwaukee event. "I am very interested in going to places where I know someone and admire someone's work and if I feel like I can help... then I'm very eager to go," Waters adds.

Waters plans on talking about "the idea of school lunch becoming an academic subject." Her project, The Edible Schoolyard, began at a middle school in Berkeley.
"I'm very, very interested in giving school lunch time and dignity and I'm interested in it becoming a place where we can teach about the cultures of the world through food," she says.

Water hopes that "school lunch could be free for every student and that it could be considered part of their academic studies so that you might be studying the culture of Mexico and you are eating the food that is nutritious, delicious and from that place."

Credit William Abranowicz
Alice Waters with students from Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in the Berkeley Edible Schoolyard Garden.

She is working to create room in public education's curriculum for the academic side to lunch. "Where we can sit together at tables and we can learn about the Silk Road in India," Waters explains. "We might be having a history class at the table and we would be eating the lentil soup from India and whole wheat chapati."

Waters also envisions a link between schools and farms.

"We haven't even begun to think about how schools could support farms that are doing the right thing," she says. "It would be amazing. It's like community-supported agriculture, but this could be school-supported agriculture. And, that way the farmer doesn't have to worry about their income."

If every child came to school and received breakfast, lunch and an afternoon snack, Waters believes childhood hunger would be eliminated. She adds, "Maybe we could pack lunches for them on the weekends."

The "Will Allen and Friends Conversation" will take place Friday, November 18 at 7:30 pm at Kohl's Innovation Center. Event information is available here.

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Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.