In Essex County, educator Mary Paolazzi was awarded a $9,034 Hipp grant to introduce students to food preparation skills at Nishuane School in Montclair.

Monthly cooking lessons will be led by parent volunteers Melanie Deysher and Shrin Irani utilizing the current school garden’s fresh fruits and vegetables. The “Kitchen a la Cart,” will be purchased from Edible Education. “Kitchen a la Cart” is an existing model which has had success in the classroom. The cart includes everything needed to prepare meals inside the classroom; an induction burner, blender, sink, cutting board, and cooking equipment. A curriculum is included which will assist teachers in incorporating the program into their lesson plans and help volunteer parents lead their cooking lessons. Recipes used will incorporate seasonal produce from the garden and reflect the diverse student population.

Strong support from the local PTA has been key to the survival of the school garden program, and will be able to provide volunteers to lead cooking lessons if a parent volunteer is unavailable. Teachers will assist the volunteer parents in supervising the children and there will be a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher provided in case of an emergency.

Students will utilize the foods they grow in the school garden, establishing the “seed to table” component. The program will expand to incorporate the “compost to soil” component, bringing the learning experience full circle.

A Garden Party will be held in June to celebrate the program’s success and showcase the “Kitchen on a Cart” program to the community. Community members, family and the media will be invited. Food from the garden will be served and students will demonstrate their basic food preparation skills.

A cookbook will be printed and sold to the community to raise funds to sustain the program in future years. The cookbook will include a recipe that each class has prepared.

For further information, contact:

Mary Paolazzi
(973) 509-4222 (Nishuane School)

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