Tag Archives: learn

Edible Schoolyard: Inspiration For A Lifetime

by on August 25, 2015


Bring something beautiful to the classroom. Bring a bouquet, set things up differently with a beautiful table cloth and a lovely basket of fruit. Prepare the classroom, the kitchen and the garden, so kids fall in love. –  Alice Waters /Founder, Edible Schoolyard Academy

I was filled with excitement as I made my way across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, about to fulfill lifetime dream: attending the Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Academy (ESY). As a wellness/
nutrition coach for the PJCC, I was one of three given the incredible honor of representing the PJCC to help develop a nutrition and food awareness curriculum for local elementary schools. Our motivation came from California State Senator Jerry Hill D-San Mateo when he visited the PJCC’s Justice Garden. Impressed with our endeavor to promote food justice and education, the Senator expressed his support in helping the PJCC share our curriculum with local elementary schools. Garnering the tools for creating this curriculum was our goal at ESY.

Helping Healthy Habits Take Root
The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program teaches youngsters how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities. Now in its 17th year, ESY is the brainchild of Alice Waters, the chef/proprietor of the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Waters is a passionate voice and pioneer in the culinary movement that supports cooking with only the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. Housed at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, the abandoned teachers’ parking lot was once a neighborhood eyesore, but today is home to a lush and meandering one-acre garden and kitchen/classroom. Students are actively involved in every aspect of food’s life cycle, from planting a seed in the garden and preparing simple meals in the kitchen to using the food waste to produce rich compost to nourish the plants. These essential life skills are priceless and have made the ESY the model program for farm-to-table education. “Farm to school” is a term that defines school efforts to incorporate local and regionally produced foods into school cafeterias. In 2011-2012, a USCA survey of 13,000 public school districts showed that 44 percent across the country have such a program in place. This is exciting news, but in a country where child obesity is on the rise, we still have a long way to go.

Go Slow and Go Deep
ESY educates the educators: the more ambassadors on the front lines, the better to reach the children. At the academy alone, there were over 90 enthusiastic attendees from around the world. However, we were cautioned to “Go slow and go deep.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the ESY. We should start small, in a corner of the playground or in a few gardening
pots outside a classroom. Let the kids get their hands dirty. Appeal to all their senses, with the taste, smell, sound and sight of fresh produce grown with care and prepared simply.

From ESY to the PJCC
I’m excited to bring my ESY education to the PJCC. When I spoke with Alice Waters, I asked if she had any additional advice as we begin introducing ESY concepts to our students. “I always say we need to work with kids in kindergarten through grade 12,” she replied. “But what I really mean is, get to them at age two. Start at this age and you have them for life.”

The PJCC is always on the lookout for ways to incorporate healthy habits into everyday life. We adopted the Discover CATCH program into our childrens’ programming. CATCH, an acronym for Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health, is an educational program created by University of Texas School of Public Health in response to the rising obesity epidemic in our country. CATCH uses a combination of kid’s nutrition and fitness activities as tools to teach children how to lead healthy and active lives. Recently, the Jewish Community Center Association adopted Discover CATCH, an expansion of CATCH that allows children to explore physical activity and nutrition through Jewish values, instilling healthy habits in children and their families for wellness their way.

Optimism & Your Health

by on February 5, 2015


During medical training at UCLA, I had the good fortune to learn from Norman Cousins, a Jewish writer, editor, and adjunct professor of medical humanities. Despite being misdiagnosed with tuberculosis at age 11, he set out as a boy to “discover exuberance.” He believed that positive emotions were the key to fighting illness, which he exemplified in the telling of his own battle with a severe form of arthritis. In the book Anatomy of An Illness, he describes his victory over a potentially life-threatening condition by taking mega doses of vitamin C, and watching Marx Brothers movies and TV sitcoms. He relates, “Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an ignitor of great expectations.” His Continue reading

Depression — The Lowdown

by on December 2, 2014


News of Robin Williams’ suicide was a shock. How could a man devoted to making others laugh take his own life? His death brought the disorder of clinical depression to the forefront.

Depression is a common mental illness that is manifested by prolonged sense of sadness, and other symptoms such as loss of desire to do pleasurable activities, irritability, insomnia or oversleeping, change in appetite, loss of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide. Depression affects 1 in 11 adults, and nearly twice as many women as men. Sadness and depression are different. Many people feel sad after losing a loved one, or losing a job, or ending a relationship. People who are depressed, however, can usually differentiate normal grief from the disabling continued weight of clinical depression. Although there is excellent treatment for depression, many people do not seek help because they mistakenly construe it as a personal weakness rather than a legitimate illness. Many celebrities have publically acknowledged their own battles with depression in hopes that others Continue reading

Cultivating Good Health

by on October 10, 2014


Any time is a good time to cultivate good health by developing a wellness plan that will help you flourish. Don’t know where to begin? Draw inspiration from your garden and apply the same concepts to your health.

Planning your garden is the first step to its success and the same holds true for your health. Buy a notebook and name it your health journal. Begin by writing down two goals that are attainable and aren’t overwhelming. For example, start preparing your afternoon snacks to bring to work instead of buying from the vending machine. This action alone can save you 200 Continue reading

Homemade Honey & Oats Granola Bars

by on September 12, 2014


Healthy, Tasty, Portable.  What’s not to like?

Finding a snack that will provide you with energy and is easy to pack and carry isn’t always easy.  Granola Bars fit the bill but can be pricey. This recipe for homemade granola bars will be satisfying and easy on the pocket book!

And, an added bonus, oats are known to lower cholesterol levels, provide fiber in your diet, Continue reading

Passover Fun Facts

by on April 12, 2014


Are you hungry for facts and stories about Passover? Here is some interesting information you might enjoy and ponder.

The Burning Bush
We learn in the Passover story that Moses experiences a holy moment with God when he notices a burning bush in the desert. Many historians and scientists indicate that in ancient times, desert brush would catch on fire, spontaneously, quite regularly. This miracle of the burning bush was most likely not that fact that it was burning, but that it was burning without being consumed. This strikes me as a good lesson about the power of observation – sometimes things that seem quite ordinary, are in fact, anything but, and offer us extraordinary opportunities for holiness, and in Moses’ case, finding our destiny.

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