Suburban Schools Make Sure Kids Have Food On Weekends


Corn in the Philippines. Syria’s unrest has many sources and one of them is food. UN estimates nearly 900 million people worldwide are food insecure. Food security is one of the keys to success. SHARE 82 CONNECT 10 TWEET 5 COMMENTEMAILMORE It all started with a food cart. Members of Congress will want to bear in mind this important detail as they weigh President Obama’s request to approve a U.S. military strike against Syria. Most of their concerns will be more immediate, of course. They’ll examine the evidence purporting to show that the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad used chemical weapons. They’ll also debate the likely consequences of military action: Will it prevent future attacks? Will it empower a rebel movement of Muslim extremists?

Well… “Labor Day” contains a scene that should fill up pie-making classes in the same way that “Ghost” goosed pottery wheel sales. It’s straight from Joyce Maynard’s novel, which Reitman adapted, and features a lonely woman (Kate Winslet) learning the proper technique to make the world’s greatest peach pie. The teacher: an escaped convict (Josh Brolin) who has forced his way into the home she shares with her 13-year-old son. “The filling is easy,” Brolin tells Winslet. That may be true, but when these two needy people squeeze and mash those juicy, ripe peaches that a next-door neighbor provided, it reawakens a sensuality in this woman that she thought had long ago died. (The son’s there, too, sensing, but not quite understanding the connection being formed.) “It’s a really nice intimate moment that’s kind of sexy, yeah,” Brolin says. To prepare, Brolin made a pie every day for three months, giving them to the cast and crew, teamsters, whoever was hungry. INTERACTIVE: Toronto International Film Festival 2013 trailers “It was purely out of fear that I wouldn’t be able to do it in the scene and it would look inauthentic,” Brolin says. Reitman, he says, “kept saying ‘The Greatest Pie-Making Scene in Movie History’ which was totally intimidating. I have a succession of pictures of the worst pies I made from the beginning, where I turned on the broiler instead of the oven and burned the top but the inside was still frozen. But I learned well. I started making good pies.” Maynard, by the way, has helpfully provided convict Frank’s pie-making expertise in an excerpt from her book.


He takes real food and turns it into fine art. With the help of tiny figurines, Boffoli tells stories about the things we love to eat. “The elements of this are essentially toys and food. Those components are two of the most common things in just about every culture in the world,” said Boffoli. “So whether you eat with a fork, or chop sticks or your fingers, you don’t have to be American, you don’t have to speak English to get this.” Boffoli’s work has been seen in about 100 countries. The most recent collection in his “Big Appetites Series” has been on display in New York. The photographs create savory worlds of food, like ice fishing on a frosty bagel with cream cheese, a lumberjack chopping scallions or a construction site of s’mores. “I wanted the food to be real and edible. There’s a lot of cheating in commercial food photography where things like white glues stands in for milk, and glass ice cubes stand in for real ice,” he said. “I figured that I would want to work with what’s fresh, what’s in season. So I’ll generally just go to the farmers market and see what looks good to me. I’ll bring the food back and start formulating ideas about how to use it.”

Food as art: Fun photos bring nature’s bounty to life

But the nation’s plunge into recession and sluggish economic recovery have seen them spread through even the most affluent suburbs. In the Cincinnati area, suburban poverty increased by 83 percent from 2000 to 2011, according to a recent Brookings Institution study. Moreover, the number of people living in poverty in suburbs in Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana in 2011 was 214,188, up from 116,975 in 2000, according to a Brookings’ analysis of U.S. Census data. Christy Davis, a single mother of four students in Kings Schools, says she is “very grateful” for the weekend meals. “It helps us a lot. And it may not seem like a lot to most people but to us it makes a big difference,” says Davis. Growing fast Beyond the obvious humanitarian motivation, school officials also have some healthy self-interest in mind. They want their poorest students fed and ready to learn on Monday mornings. Still, the growing need for such programs “is disheartening,” says Lebanon Schools Superintendent Mark North, whose weekend food recipients have more than doubled in recent years. “We put on students a lot of expectations on what they should be doing in schools to be successful, but we have a lot of children who do not have regular meals. And then these children are expected to hit the ground running right away, along with other children who have had the basics,” says North.