Photo: Nancy Borowick/Edible Schoolyard

Edible Schoolyard NYC Presents: Transforming Family Relationships to Food

“Stories From The Ground” is an ongoing Edible Schoolyard NYC series that spotlights the people, places, and personalities behind ESYNYC’s mission to make nourishing, healthy food more accessible to children in New York City. The GC Team are huge supporters of ESYNYC, and together we are working to educate, advocate, and support the community members who play a role in making this vision a reality. Below, Maria Rivas considers how her and her daughter’s relationship to food and the environment has changed as a result of ESYNYC’s garden and kitchen education programs.

My daughter Amanda and I are so honored to be a part of the Edible Schoolyard New York City family. Since kindergarten, Amanda has attended the elementary school where this program first began in New York, in our community of Gravesend, Brooklyn. I was asked to share why this program is so meaningful to us — I honestly could go on for hours about the difference this program has made on my family, not to mention the children at Amanda’s school. As a former President of the Parent Association, I have seen firsthand the excitement in the children’s faces and the overwhelming involvement from parents with this program.

“Her connection to food has evolved so much over the past five years.”

As a mother, I want my daughter to have all the opportunities in the world, both at home and at school. Having the Edible Schoolyard NYC program at our school has provided Amanda with a strong connection to food and the environment beyond what many students receive. From an environmental standpoint, Amanda has tremendous respect for the garden.

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Photo: Nancy Borowick/Edible Schoolyard

When she was five years old, we went to a butterfly conservatory in Key West, where we learned that the Monarch butterfly is rapidly becoming extinct. She learned more about this issue from her garden class teachers and became very passionate about these butterflies. She took the initiative to create the Save the Monarchs club at school. She raised over $100 at an Edible Schoolyard NYC community fair — Olivia [ESYNYC Program Manager] and her team provided Amanda not only with a table but with the encouraging support she needed for her cause. She has found a way to put her leadership skills to great use raising awareness and funds about the Monarchs.

“She has found a way to put her leadership skills to great use.”

Her connection to food has also evolved so much over the past five years. When Amanda was seven years old, she came home one day so excited about a recipe from her kitchen class, and exclaimed that she loved kale and that we needed to buy some and make the recipe at home. I have to admit, I had never even heard of kale! But through Amanda’s passion, knowledge, and enthusiasm that she learned in this program, I too was encouraged to try this new vegetable.

Amanda has always loved helping in the kitchen. But now, in addition to making my family recipes, we make the exciting Edible Schoolyard NYC recipes that she brings home and we try them as a family. We are so proud to be a part of the Edible Schoolyard NYC program, and we feel very lucky to have it our school.

This article originally appeared on Edible Schoolyard NYC’s website, and has been reproduced and shared here with permission.

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