Tuesday, December 11, 2012

lunch lady

One of the great things about my daughter's school, St. Philip's Academy, is the deliberate way in which a sense of real community is cultivated. Kids socialize across grade levels in academic and extra-curricular activities. Parents are incorporated into the school community and encouraged to volunteer in all sorts of ways, within their kid's classroom and in the school generally.

One of the most notable aspects of St. Philip's, one that has been written up in various venues (see this on Jamie Oliver's site), is the food. It's amazing. The school has a rooftop garden and a learning kitchen, and the kids learn about eating seasonally, locally and also implicitly, the often-overlooked fact that food comes from somewhere other than a store shelf. There is a salad bar stocked with seasonal offerings available everyday, as well as chef-prepared hot entree and side, and fruit to finish. Without exaggeration, I can say that my daughter eats a multi-course restaurant quality lunch every single day, in her school cafeteria.

It was hectic, it was loud, it was work. The kids aren't sorted by grade but sit together at assigned tables and seats. Each seat has an assigned task--someone gets the water and the cups, someone gets the silverware and plates, someone gets the food, others clean up after. And they eat family-style: just another way to emphasize that community is about everybody, about working together, about paying attention to each other, about sharing and listening.

And afterward, I got to eat: eggs florentine, turkey bacon and roasted sweet potato hash, ruby red grapefruit for dessert. A-ma-zing.

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