The Experimental Station has built a dynamic and expanding food education program in an ongoing effort to alter the purchasing behavior and food consumption patterns of Woodlawn’s low-income children, youth, and adults. We believe ‘food access’ is a multidimensional problem that takes long-term investment to solve and as a result we have identified three goals to carry out through food education programming at the Experimental Station:

 

At-Market

To offer weekly at-Market educational programming through our Market School activities.

Since 2008, there have been approximately 225 Market School days. Each week at the Market School tent, individuals, groups and organizations volunteer to engage market customers in conversations about topics like nutrition, sustainability, buying locally, gardening, and living more healthfully.

 

In/After School

In 2013, we instituted a 3-level program for 2nd through 4th graders at Carnegie Elementary School (where 85% of students are low-income and time and resources to develop experience-based learning opportunities are low).

Second graders begin each spring with a 6-week healthy eating course. Students learn the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables, how the fruits and vegetables are grown sustainably, which fruits and vegetables are grown locally, what they taste like, and when in the season they are grown. 

Third graders participate in two 6-week gardening classes, taking place in the fall and the spring. Students learn to produce a food crop through planting, growing, and harvesting at our nearby hoop house at Jackson Park Terrace apartments.

Fourth graders are offered after-school cooking classes, held next door at Experimental Station, focused on local, healthy foods. Participants are given nutritional information on the dishes prepared, along with recipes so that they can be easily recreated at home. 

 

For the Community

We offer two Healthy Eating Workshops per year to the parents of 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade Carnegie School students themselves, including a tasting of one or two locally grown fruits and vegetables. Information is provided regarding the 61st Street Farmers Market and how the Market will double LINK purchases. 

Through the gardening program at Jackson Park Terrace, residents learn to cultivate their own vegetables in the hoop house in addition to attending Healthy Eating Workshops, cooking demonstrations, and a tour of the Market by the Market Manager and staff members from University of Chicago Medicine's Improving South Side Diabetes.

During the summer, Woodlawn youths can participate in a 10-week gardening program where they learn pruning and trellising of vegetables, succession planting, and harvesting techniques. Harvested produce is given to youths for preparation at home.

Additionally, we offer weekly fresh produce samplings at the local Department of Human Services office, along with fliers and magnets promoting the 61st Street Farmers Market.

The impact of all these experiences is immeasurable and deeply important when we consider how to better “connect with our food”.

For more information on any of these programs, contact Wendy Zeldin at wendy@experimentalstation.org