Cafeteria Managers Dive Deep into Food Systems Thinking

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

There are 80,000 students in the Baltimore City public school system, and more than 150 people who manage the cafeterias that serve breakfast and lunch to those students. Day to day, the managers are kept busy with logistics and regulations so their cafeterias can run smoothly. But last month, they got a chance to step back and think about food systems as a whole.

“This was the first time anything like this has happened with our cafeteria managers,” said Laura Genello, who helped run the professional day that encouraged cafeteria managers to think broadly and get creative about how they feed school children. Genello adapted a  lesson from FoodSpan, the Center for a Livable Future’s high school curriculum, to run the training that focused on food marketing. Read More >

Enlightenment in the Food System Lab

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“Before I started at the Center for a Livable Future,” says Kenai McFadden, “I didn’t even know what a food system is.”

A Bloomberg School graduate student focusing on Health Education and Health Communication, Kenai’s full-time field placement at the Food System Lab has piqued new interests and expanded the way he thinks about community health.

The Food System Lab is an urban teaching farm in Baltimore City that operates on the grounds of Baltimore’s Cylburn Arboretum. Read More >

FoodSpan in the Classroom: Teaching the Hunger Gap at Patterson High School

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

“Who hasn’t had lunch yet? Is anyone here hungry?”

Melissa Apolenis, a graduate student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, opened class with these questions, intending to make her students think about how hunger personally affects them. The class was composed of Ms. Caprice Davis’s 11th grade nursing students and Ms. Porshia Seymour’s pharmacy tech students.

The students and Ms. Apolenis, as well as her colleagues Maria Claver and Jacqueline Castille, also graduate students Read More >

Charming Earthworms for Science

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the fourth in a series – Letters from the Low Country – about food and agriculture in the Netherlands, written by Laura Genello as she studies organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

Almost everyone agrees that earthworms are good for soil in built environments, and for more than a century, we’ve been researching their role in forming soil. In fact, fascination with earthworms can be traced back to Charles Darwin, who first documented their soil forming behaviors. My own interest in worms and soil brought me to a quirky competition held by Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Read More >

The School Garden at Pantarijn: A Study in Collaboration

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

This post is the first in a series – Letters from the Low Country – that Laura Genello will be writing about inspiring projects in food and agriculture in the Netherlands, where she is studying organic agriculture at Wageningen University.

When I arrived in the Netherlands in August, I was immediately struck by the gardens: from community gardens wild with climbing beans and sunflowers to home gardens with tidy rows of miniature shrubs. Six months later I set out to learn about a type of garden that is less visible to the tourist—the school garden. Read More >

Inspire Students to Take Action Against Hunger

Colson Campbell

Colson Campbell

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

foodspan-hungerFor many people, the holiday season is a fun time, celebrating with family, friends and food. But this is not the case for everyone—and teachers can help students learn about food insecurity and raise awareness of hunger. Despite the ease with which many of us buy, prepare and eat delicious meals during the holidays, one in seven households in the United States suffers from food insecurity. What does food insecurity in a household Read More >

Foraging for Hidden Harvests

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Eric Kelly of Charm City Farms

Eric Kelly of Charm City Farms

Eric Kelly doesn’t really believe in weeds. Or rather, he’s got radically different ideas about weeds than most people. As far as he’s concerned, almost every plant has value, either as food or medicine, or because it’s doing some kind of work in the soil. Clover, for example, which some people make great efforts to eradicate from their lawns, does an excellent job fixing nitrogen in the soil. Symbiotic bacteria take up nitrogen from the air, transfer it to the roots, and then leave it in the soil to nourish other plants. The flower and the leaves of purple clover, says Eric, are medicinal, as well.

“A weed is any plant that grows in a place you don’t want it to,” he says. “The only plant I ever weed out is grass.”

Also known as the “Mangy White Bushman,” Eric teaches Baltimore denizens how to find food in unexpected places. Read More >

Interns at Real Food Farm — Hard Work, Pride, and Good Food

Elena Broaddus

Elena Broaddus

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

realfoodfarm3“Hard work. Hot. And what can I really even learn out of it?”

Those were Davon Baynes’s thoughts when he started as an intern at Civic Works’ Real Food Farm in Baltimore’s Clifton Park. He wasn’t the only intern who felt that way. In fact, all six students who participated in the program that year said they learned that growing food is hard work. Davon, a high school junior when he began, wasn’t turned off from farming, though; he went on to become the assistant manager of the Mobile Farmers Market and now spends his days harvesting and selling Real Food Farm produce in his community.

So, how do you get teenagers interested in working on a farm? Especially on precious Saturday mornings? Read More >

CLF’s Free Online Food Systems Course Gets an Update

Meg Burke

Meg Burke

Sr. Academic Program Coordinator

Center for a Livable Future

pollinator-courseraThe new year has arrived with opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about food systems. This winter, Coursera has at least five free, online classes on food-system topics, including the tried-and-true CLF course co-taught by Bob Lawrence and Keeve Nachman. “An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health” is being offered for the third year, and this year’s lineup includes some extra goodies.

This time around we’ll offer new lectures by CLF faculty Jillian Fry and Roni Neff. Read More >

Exploring the Food System with CTY

Laura Genello

Laura Genello

Guest Blogger

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

RS2878_Aquaponics_212-scrTwo weeks ago we hosted our second annual Food Systems and Public Health course in partnership with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) at the Cylburn Arboretum. Six CLF staff members spent the day with 15 talented middle- and high-school students and their parents, and worked to define the food system, acknowledge harms, and develop a sense of hope for changing the world through the way we grow and eat our food. Read More >