The political battles over the Farm Bill in Washington D.C. and new public campaign strategies to slow the obesity epidemic in California have put the future of Berkeley’s garden and nutrition programs in jeopardy. Funding streams that previously provided the financial support and program incentives are being looked at for other uses.
Currently, the Network for a Healthy California (Network) uses federal dollars to fund nutrition education that our district uses in garden and cooking classrooms in eleven of the District’s schools.* When the number of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch at a school falls below 50%, which is the case at Malcolm X, Washington, and Rosa Parks, the schools no longer qualify for the Network funds the following year. As a result, these three Berkeley Schools were being forced to consider a school without the garden and nutrition programs that have become integral to their school community in the last few years.
The Berkeley School Board took action at its April 11th meeting to allocate “up to $350,000” in bridge funding to maintain the garden and nutrition programs at Malcolm X, Washington, and Rosa Parks for 2012-13, giving the schools essentially a year’s time to adjust to the loss of funding or perhaps find grant or other funding opportunities to keep the program alive. Unfortunately, the whole program is in jeopardy with future funding uncertain even for qualifying schools.
*Note: BUSD schools currently receiving Network for a Healthy California funding:
3 preschools (King CDC, Franklin, Hopkins)
7 elementary schools (Emerson, John Muir, Le Conte, Thousand Oaks, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, Washington)
2 middle schools (Longfellow, Willard)
2 high schools (Berkeley High, B-Tech)