Who said pizza can’t be a breakfast food?
About 15 fifth-grade students at Nations Ford Elementary in Charlotte were having a slice by 9:30 a.m. Friday as part of the “Field to Fork” spring kickoff.
The local partnership between Mecklenburg County Health Department, Mecklenburg County Fruit & Vegetable Coalition, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, LandSculptors, Earth Farm Organics and Fuel Pizza Café aims to teach students the importance of nutrition and fresh foods through “Pizza Gardens.” Over the next semester, students at 15 CMS elementary schools will grow the ingredients for their own healthy pizzas and teachers will incorporate the gardening and nutrition information into their curriculum.
Fuel general manager Marc Zimmerman brought veggie-loaded pies with whole wheat crust to Kimberly Giammattei’s fifth grade class Friday morning. Toppings included green peppers, onions, tomatoes, oregano and basil, all ingredients kids will learn to grow themselves.
Zimmerman said that at the end of the year, each class will bring their produce to the nearest Fuel location to make their own pizzas.
Nations Ford’s grant contact Karol Gilmore-Dixon said the kid-approved food is an amazing motivator.
“Anything that has to do with pizza gets our kids excited,” she said. “This is a good opportunity to get our kids excited about nutrition and vegetables.” This is the first year Nation’s Ford has participated in the program, which has been expanding since its start in 2010.
Megan Dean, registered dietician with the county health department, said the program has been gaining popularity every year. In 2010, Field to Fork served five schools and, Dean said, 30 elementary schools will participate in the grant program during the 2012-13 school year.
The program is funded through Lowe’s Keep America Beautiful, the Democratic National Convention Legacy 2012 and other program partners.
Dean estimated the grant program funds about $5,000 overall each semester to cover the garden plants each school receives, the trained dietitians that teach nutritional information to the classes and the busing cost of each class’s field trip to Fuel.