Food as Memory
From teacher Eric Chow:
As San Francisco residents, we are so fortunate to have access to fresh produce, a truly metropolitan food culture, and a public that views food as a social justice issue. Just about every segment of our city puts a high priority on what they put on their plate… with some glaring exceptions. Our public school children have been subjected to pre-prepackaged, color-less breakfasts and lunches that not only lack flavor but even fall short in meeting basic nutritional needs. This is unacceptable in any city, but it should cause greater outrage in our city with its diversity of people and cultures, its abundance of ethnic and specialty markets and eateries.
This was the starting point for our project, Food as Memory, in which my English Language Development class at Burton High School will explore the inextricable ties between food, identity and culture, and in extension, the sustainability of people and the resources we use. With the help of 826 Valencia, we are planning to publish a unique collection of each student’s memoirs about foods from their childhood along with recipes and artwork.
My ELD students are mostly newcomers with varying English and academic abilities. They are from China, Vietnam, The Philippines, El Salvador and Mexico. Nearly all of them qualify for free and reduced lunch, and yet many of them do not eat the lunches from our school cafeteria. They like to talk among each other and there are always the few who always participate in class discussion. Besides going over their writing, the tutors would be a great help in engaging them in social and academic conversation in English.
The curriculum for this project is based on collaboration with World Savvy’s Media and Arts Program (MAP). World Savvy, a global education non-profit organization, sponsors the Media and Arts Program in San Francisco and New York City and culminates with a celebration and gallery opening of the student participants’ work.
400 Mansell Drive