Innovative program teaches students to make healthy connections through food

In a city known for its unique cuisine, students who attend a network of New Orleans charter schools are getting hands-on experience with food. These kids are fans of kale and carrots, thanks to Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESYNOLA).

ESYNOLA integrates organic gardening and seasonal cooking into the school curriculum, culture and cafeteria programs. Students and the school community grow, harvest, prepare and enjoy food, establishing a healthy relationship with what they eat and the natural world.

“The incredible thing is that when they’ve done all this, it’s very rare that they don’t eat the food. At the end of a class, they’ve all got their hands out, eager to try the chard or the basil,” said Kerrie Partridge, program coordination for ESYNOLA.

Schools feature gardens, with one as large as one-third of an acre. Two schools offer cooking classes in state-of-the-art teaching kitchens.

ESYNOLA is sponsored by FirstLine Schools, a network of five open-enrollment charter schools.