On Tuesday, Caitlin Flanagan lobbed a large stink bomb in the direction of Alice Waters, attacking her Edible Schoolyard program in the pages of the latest issue of the Atlantic. Today, the Atlantic Food Channel’s Corby Kummer, whom Waters called “about ten minutes after the piece appeared online,” pens a rebuttal against Flanagan’s polemic.
Kummer makes a few corrections to Flanagan’s article, namely that the Edible Schoolyard program is privately funded, rather than by the state, as Flanagan implies. And Alice Waters does actually have a background in education, having spent five years as a Montessori-trained teacher. Also, while Flanagan drove 20 miles to low-income Compton just to prove that there’s a supermarket there, Kummer points out that plenty of inner-city neighborhoods are food deserts, and that the Edible Schoolyard program at least gives them access to fresh produce, something they might otherwise not have access to.
Perhaps most helpfully, Kummer speaks with Tony Recasner, the founder of two charter schools in New Orleans, a city that knows a thing or two about privation and dysfunctional school systems, and finds that Recasner is a big advocate of the program. Why? “[It opens experiential pathways for kids to learn…Different learning experiences correlate highly with improved test scores…They’ll see the kinds of ideas, people, concepts, and different languages they’re exposed to with the Edible Schoolyard appear on tests. It’s very helpful.”
Also helpful? Their effect on students’ diets. And, Kummer writes, ‘[i]f Flanagan was focused on children’s diets and the effect that being well-nourished has on school performance, she would lambaste herself with the relish she reserves for Waters.”