Lessons About Food, Love and Giving
It was a pleasure to welcome all of our students back from holiday last week. Smiling faces, big hugs, and lots of excitement were on display at the front doors to the school and in the piazza. And I think it is fair to say that our parents were almost as excited to see their children return to school as the children were to return.
Some of my favourite student comments included:
"I thought that holiday was going to last FOREVER!"
"Presents are good, but school is better!"
"I couldn't wait to come to school to see if my friends got bigger."
"I loved all the special food I got to eat!"
This, as you can imagine, differs quite a bit from the comments that secondary students used to make to me when they returned to school after any holiday. It is indeed a privilege to work in an elementary school and be surrounded by excitement and a love of learning.
The last comment listed above was from a Grade 2 student. It made me think about the role of food in our lives. Food is a necessity but preparing and feeding our family and friends is also an act of love and one important way we take care of one another. And during special holidays, traditional foods are served that occupy an important place in family and cultural history.
Richland conducts a number of food drives a year. Food that we collect goes to the Richmond Hill Food Bank. Earlier in the year one of our teachers learned -- through a parent presentation -- that very little fresh food is donated to food banks. Consequently, those members of our community who need to use the food bank rarely receive fresh fruits and vegetables.
We are an inquiry-based learning school. This philosophy encourages deep and ongoing exploration of questions of interest to our students and teachers that are tied to the curriculum. This teacher discussed the health impacts from a lack of fresh fruit sand vegetables and the class decided they wanted to grow vegetables for salads for our school but also for the food bank. A member of our parent community generously donated a hydroponic garden tower and the students began to grow vegetables from seed. When the children returned from the holidays the vegetables had grown and were ready for harvest.
When we started to discuss transporting the vegetables to the food bank we realized that this was another area of learning that we could weave into the inquiry. Transporting the food by car would not extend the students' learning as deeply as if we delivered the food via public transit. After all, most people using the food bank do not own cars. Our hope is that by traveling on transit to students will learn about the time it would take for someone to travel and visit the food bank, the stigma that can be associated with getting on a bus with bags from the food bank, and hopefully, will result in lasting learning about the value of food.
So what could have "simply" been a food drive has turned into an extended inquiry into the value of food on many levels. Great work Ms. Ciocio and all the Grade 4 students. We look forward to learning from your reflections after you visit the food bank.
Head of School