The Ninth Ward’s School at Blair Grocery Leads the Grassroots Revolution in Child Nutrition

It seems that the concept of feeding kids knowledge while also feeding them nutritious food is finally catching on in the United States. The movement for increased nutrition in students’ lunches is firmly established through grassroots organizations and has finally reached the White House: this year President Obama invested an extra $1 billion in child nutrition.

Prior to this, most school nutrition programs have remained in a stagnant state of processed and artificial flavorings for over a decade, without revision or review. One of the Department of Agriculture’s most aggressive programs for the cause is the national farm-to-school program, now in place at 9,000 schools across the United States. While the government’s focus on increasing child nutrition programs is essential, the cornerstone of the movement still remains at the grassroots level.

One of the most inspiring of these movements is Nat Turner’s School at Blair Grocery in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans. I exchanged several emails with Turner this past spring discussing the agri-educational revolution he was starting. Turner one-ups Obama: not only is he putting sustainable food on his students’ lunch trays, he is teaching them to grow their own food in the abandoned plots that surround the neighborhood.

Blair Grocery, the first black owned business in the Lower Ninth Ward, like much of the neighborhood, became disenfranchised, run-down and boarded up after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Turner has re-opened the grocery store and turned it into a home schooling base for neighborhood students, who are also being taught about nutrition and local food through the school's vacant lots-turned gardens.

As the movement to educate youth about sustainable food continues, the necessity of involving children in growing their own food, and not just tasting it on their trays, becomes paramount.

To learn more about the school at Blair Grocery: