CHICAGO (CBS) — Sweet peppers, okra and kohlrabi sound like they belong on the menu of one of Chicago’s top restaurants, but actually as we discovered in this Original Report, it’s what you’ll find being grown, harvested and served in a handful of Chicago Public Schools.
Mitchell Elementary School is one of five taking part in a new program called “Eat What You Grow.” Kids plant the seeds, care for the crops and then harvest their own fruits and vegetables.
“I like getting dirty and I really like corn,” said 2nd-grader Maxwell Jedlicka.
The program is exposing kids to foods they’ve never eaten before.
“I never had green beans and I never had spinach before,” said student Arelie Castiello
Schools have been gardening for decades in Chicago but for the first time ever students follow strict food safety guidelines so they can serve their produce to other kids at lunch. This week, kids will get to eat some of the lettuce they grew in their garden.
“There’s a lot more interest when they see it from the start to the end and it’s something they put their work and effort into,” said Ms. Jenni Fanelli, the garden leader at Mitchell.
“I do think the kids do get more excited and are more aware about including fruits and vegetables in their diet and go home and talk to their parents about it,” said Principal Nicole Millberg.
The program is in its 2nd year nearly 20 schools are now certified for the “Eat What You Grow” program.
If you’re wondering what happens to the garden during summer, families at Mitchell pitch in to help with the crops.