Kale, they say, is a superfood. But just how super? To Emily Reckard, its powers practically know no bounds. Because in addition to its vitamin-packing, brain-enhancing, waist-slimming abilities, it holds the potential to fundamentally transform schools, neighborhoods, and even the attention spans of some unruly first graders.
As a recent graduate of the nonprofit FoodCorps, which aims to change children’s eating habits by providing more opportunities to eat healthy foods like fruit and vegetables, Reckard has seen firsthand the social benefits of introducing schoolchildren to the world of horticulture. FoodCorps is a culturally and geographically responsive program that promotes a school-wide culture of health by implementing hands-on learning and providing healthy school meals, as well as driving change at a systems level, from school districts to supply chains to state and national politics. In 2017, Reckard was placed at Mundo Verde, one of the 352 schools that FoodCorps works with nationwide. At the bilingual charter elementary in Washington, D.C., Reckard oversaw development of the school’s garden (filled with kale, of course) and implemented a food-focused curriculum that introduced students to gardening, cooking, and healthy eating.