Serenity Rain Testimony – DCPS Performance Oversight Hearing – February 26, 2019

Serenity Rain

Ward 7 Resident

Parent and LSAT Chair, Anne Beers Elementary School

Testimony on the DC Council Committee of the Whole and Committee on Education

Performance Hearing on the District of Columbia Public Schools

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

John A. Wilson Building, Room 500

 

Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Serenity Rain, and I am a parent at Anne Beers Elementary with kids in Pre-K 3, Kindergarten and 3rd grade. I am here today to speak in support of the FoodPrints program as a parent, teacher, LSAT chair, community advocate, and trained social worker.

Two years ago, I began as the community advocate for the Beers Farm Share program and a Foodprints assistant teacher. The FoodPrints program was so compelling to me that last year, I left my job to begin a position as the Lead FoodPrints teacher at Anne Beers.

From my perspective as a parent, Anne Beers students are learning critical thinking, problem solving, team building and essential life skills in FoodPrints. This whole-child approach to education is very important to me and one of main reasons why I choose Anne Beers for my children.

From my perspective as a teacher, I’ve witnessed the impact FoodPrints has on the entire school. Everyone at Beers from the Principal to the Custodial Staff loves FoodPrints and are always eager to see what we are cooking next. We’ve got the whole school loving Kale and saying “Kale Yeah!” and being open to trying new healthy foods. Foodprints is the highlight of everyone’s of the day, and I feel like a celebrity when I push my cooking cart through the school.

From my social worker perspective, FoodPrints is healing. This is especially important at schools in which so many students are impacted by trauma, challenging childhoods, mental, physical and learning disabilities.

I’ve seen how a student experiencing stress is relaxed by digging in the soil, watering a plant, cutting vegetables, or grinding wheat berries into flour. And how students are excited they created something delicious and nutritious together! Just by participating in FoodPrints, children feel a sense of belonging, teamwork, and that they matter.

From my perspective as a community health advocate, FoodPrints and our farm share grants our school community access to fresh produce and healthy eating in a place known as a “food desert” with high rates of obesity and diabetes. Seeing students come to school eating honey buns and donuts for breakfast and having a packed lunch of processed foods and snacks is disheartening. Students are excited to try new healthy foods in FoodPrints because they are part of the process to harvest and cook the food.

Though Foodprints is amazing at our school, we face funding limitations. Currently only students preschool through 1st grade gets the full Foodprints experience. Upper grades participate on a very limited basis and students and teachers – and parents – continually ask if they will be able to participate more frequently. Limited funding is constantly looming over us and it’s a fear year to year whether or not we will be able to continue our FoodPrints program. We hope the city can invest in this program so that all our students can benefit. There is so much research out there that proves that a model like this works, and our students deserves the best we can give them!

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