Conscientious Cook: Promise Academy in Harlem,"Where Food is as Important as Homework"

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This morning there was a glimmer of hope in the paper. Kim Severson writes a wonderful article, "Eating Writing and 'Rithmetic: Harlem Pupils Meet Swiss Chard" about a school in Harlem, aptly named Promise Academy, where the cafeteria has not only been transformed into a laboratory of healthy eating, but also a monthly farmers' market.

Although much of the focus of these kinds of programs (and the articles about them) is combating obesity (according to Severson, 44% of the children at this school are "overweight"), there are little suggestive hints that this kind of program is also beneficial because it connects children to food so that they understand where it comes from.

Now we're getting somewhere. Health isn't just reduced-fat cookies and green vegetables; it's having an understanding of where it all comes from and how it's made. Health also grows when we have respect for who serves us our food, how we eat it, and whom we eat it with.

And of course, focusing on simple high-quality, whole foods, instead of processed, high-fat and cholesterol meals made with USDA commodity foods (which is what most schools in this country are subjected to) only adds more nutrients to these growing bodies and spirits.

For inspiration, and a little pinch of hope, it's worth a read.

Bring on the cloth-covered cafeteria tables, and bring on the chard!

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Sara Kate is the founding editor of The Kitchn. She co-founded the site in 2005 and has since written three cookbooks. She is most recently the co-author of The Kitchn Cookbook, to be published in October 2014 by Clarkson Potter.

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