Fight re-launched to save school nutrition programs

According to an email sent to LeConte Elementary School parents, “Currently, 14 of the 18 school sites in Berkeley receive a total of $ 1.9 million each year in federal funding for nutritional education through the Network for a Healthy California. These funds are expected to starkly diminish if not totally disappear as soon as next year or in the very near future.”

The district “has no transition plan in place” to make up for the loss in financial support, according to the LeConte message, and four schools continue to lack programming in gardening and cooking.

The email continues: “Now is the time for Berkeley to craft an ambitious, forward-­looking District­wide program to meet the current and future challenges facing our students and families, including reducing childhood obesity, strengthening students’ core academic skills, bridging the achievement gap in line with Berkeley’s 2020 Vision, and building nutrition education and sustainable life skills into our kids’ and families’ daily choices.”

Earlier this year, parents feared that the district would lose funding for the programs in 2012-13 but, as reported by Berkeleyside in June, a state network came to the rescue.

At that time, Leah Sokolofski, program supervisor for the BUSD Cooking and Garden Nutrition Program, said that the Network for a Healthy California, the state program that administers the federal monies to local school districts, had told BUSDoit would extend the funding for an additional year.

Give the financial uncertainty long term, parents formed the Berkeley Garden and Cooking Alliance, along with representatives from all Berkeley schools and some community groups, to advocate for continuation of funding for the programs.

Last Wednesday night, dozens of parents told the school board how much the programs mattered to them and their children.

What Next?

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