Staff who have worked for Berkeley's cherished schools' cooking and gardening program, which is in need of support. Photo: Pete Rosos
Staff who have worked for Berkeley’s cherished schools’ cooking and gardening program, which is in need of support. Photo: Pete Rosos

Since it lost $1.9 million in federal funding last year, Berkeley schools’ much lauded, 12-year-old cooking and gardening program has been struggling to find a way to survive and continue to provide invaluable edible education to the city’s young.

The unique district-wide program encourages students to explore the value of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, getting physical activity, and knowing where their food comes from.

But the program is now “operating on a lifeline with a piecemeal budget,” said its director, Jezra Thompson.

The community has been very supportive to date and gets two new opportunities both this month and next to help.

On Tuesday May 13, you can participate in the second annual Berkeley Dine Out, when many local restaurants, bakeries and cafés will donate a percentage of your bill to the school program. Participating spots include Elmwood Café, Zut!, Cancun, Eureka!, Benchmark Pizzeria, Babette, Ippuku and Flaco’s. (See the full list.)

Babette at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, one of many restaurants participating in Berkeley Dine Out, a fundraiser for the Berkeley schools’ cooking and gardening program. Berkeley Dine Out is on Tuesday May 13. Photo: Pete Rosos

Then, on Saturday June 7, 6:00-9:00 p.m., the program is hosting an evening gala reception at the International House on the UC Berkeley campus. The fundraiser will include farm-to-table food provided by Whole Foods’ special catering Chef Silvia, with local and regional produce from small organic farms found in the immediate area. There will be fine small craft brews from Pyramid Ales and CaliCraft Brewing Co., and regional wines from Mendocino Wine Inc. To top it off, there will be music by the Berkeley Middle School Ensemble, and a silent auction. For more information, and to buy tickets, visit the Gala’s website.

BUSD Board to vote on slashed budget for cooking and gardening program (03.25.14)
Cooking cuts loom in Berkeley’s edible program (1.29.14)
Berkeley tasting night raises funds for school edible program (11.14.13)
Berkeley schools’ edible programs face huge challenges (11.11.13)
Portraits: Berkeley schools’ cooking and gardening program (05.29.13)
Berkeley schools gardening, cooking program in peril (o4.16.13)
Fight re-launched to save school nutrition programs (11.19.12)
School edible programs get reprieve from the Feds (06.14.12)
Berkeley district votes to fund at-risk edible programs (04.12.12)
Community seeks life support for school edible programs (03.30.12)
Berkeley school district cuts to tackle $3m deficit (03.28.12)
Berkeley school gardening, cooking face cuts (03.23.12)

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...