Raintree’s nutritional program is built on the cornerstone of students needing good food to fuel them to learn and excel. Their program begins with their in-house chef who prepares wholesome cuisine for the kids and transforms the kitchen into a dynamic learning environment. Chef Art prepares nutritious meals using all seasonal produce and as local as possible ingredients including from their school’s own garden. They also are part of a Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) program and buy from local farmers which allows them to stock their kitchen with organic dairy, organic eggs, local jam and local honey.
The kids not only eat good food but they help to grow and make it too. Children work with Raintree’s farmer to design the garden and then plant and harvest it. They also help to cook meals and prepare snacks including homemade bread every Thursday.
Children learn how to be creative by preparing a range of recipes, practice science by watching food change states of matter, and achieve positive self-esteem. They apply mathematics through measuring out ingredients, embrace world cultures by tasting different cuisines and discover healthy habits that they take on for the rest of their lives.
Parents can learn too as Raintree offers cooking classes and encourages them to bring the same food literacy learning and experiences into their homes.
Raintree recognizes the importance of food for their students and their families, and even expands the food focused mission beyond their school grounds. They run workshops to teach other early childhood centers how to follow in their footsteps, sponsor Ellisville’s Farmers’ Market, host movie screenings and encourage parent participation in a CSA.
This is an incredible example of a school that recognizes the importance of food for a healthy learning mind and as a knowledge base that needs to be taught to children so they live to be happy, healthy adults.
Raintree Learning Community educates children ages 2-6 and is located in Ballwin, Missouri. To learn more about Raintree and their nutritional program, please visit www.undertheraintree.org.
The Slow Spotlight is a series of regular blog posts exploring the story of our food. The series reports on local farms, “slow” food products/businesses, and the preservation (or creation) of food traditions with occasional coverage of relevant organizations, issues, and events.