Fair Food Matters began in 2001 as an educational resource for issues in the food system. As the local food movement grew in Kalamazoo, FFM honed in on creating food and garden based experiential education for local youth. In 2007, FFM partnered with Woodward School for Technology and Research. In collaboration with various local educators and partners, the existing garden was transformed into an outdoor classroom where students apply in-class learning as they develop important life skills and connect with the natural world.
The gardening and environmental education programs facilitated by FFM at Woodward School have a new home within KNC’s Department of Learning and Engagement. The addition of this program will enable KNC to continue FFM’s mission.
In the Garden
Over 300 students are involved in learning activities in the garden each year. Woodward students apply math, science, language arts, creative arts, history, nutrition, physical education, and more as they learn how to garden organically from seed to compost. Students are excited to eat the fresh food they have grown. Ever had kindergarteners begging to eat broccoli? We have! The Woodward Garden has several areas for vegetables, herbs, strawberries, and perennial flowers, including a native pollinator bed.
Photo by Keith Muma
Emphasis on Equity
The Fair Food Matters Program is especially committed to making food and garden based learning opportunities available in parts of the Kalamazoo community that have historically faced food apartheid and other forms of systemic opression. We seek to educate about food with an awareness that this right is not afforded to all communities. Our staff strives to use Anti-bias/Anti-racism teaching techniques (ABAR) to “support all children’s full development in our multiracial, multilingual, multicultural world and give them the tools to stand up to prejudice, stereotyping, bias, and eventually to institutional ‘isms’” 2 as we explore the importance of food in our everyday lives, in hopes of contributing to a food sovereign Kalamazoo.
Photo by Keith Muma
After School Programs: Club Grub & Good Food Crew
Club Grub is an after school program at Woodward Elementary that explores healthy eating, gardening, and community. In partnership with Kalamazoo College's Center for Civic Engagement, we use games, hands-on activities, group discussions and field trips to learn about nutrition, organic gardening, recipes, cooking basics, and where food comes from. We make a healthy snack or meal to eat every week as we learn about different foods! Food is a big, important part of our lives. Club Grub creates a space for children to share their experiences and ideas about what they eat. We aim to build life-long healthy eating habits and share the community aspect of food. We believe kids should be able to nourish their own bodies and minds, and feel empowered to share what they discover with their families and community.
We offer a condensed version of this year-long after school program at various locations called “Good Food Crew”, in which we learn about the same subjects in 5-7 weeks.