“Change doesn’t always happen in a 45-minute class period.”

Original post from georgiaorganics.org

By Lauren Ladov
FoodCorps Service Member with Georgia Organics and Captain Planet Foundation

The magic brews stronger the longer it takes to change

This winter, I led several different classes making butter. Understanding states and the transformation of matter is a Common Core standard K-3. Armed with heavy cream in jars, I challenged students to change this liquid into a solid.

So with blind faith, we shook. And by shook, I mean we got down. We shook our arms, legs, heads, bums and all. We clapped, stomped, did the running man, the nay-nay, raised the roof once or thrice. The kindergarteners boogied so hard they counted all the way to 300 – for the very first time.

Our bodies grew tired, and some students even gave up. But in an unpredicted moment, the cream turned. Yelps of victory rang through the school grounds, the halls reverberating with excitement.

The jitters of pride and fascination with the transformation only settled when we stuffed our mouths with the finished product. It tasted so good, we almost didn’t want to share leftovers with other classes and teachers…

The school staff were shocked when we fed them the handmade butter. With raised eyebrows, they smiled in satisfaction, admiring the dedication and energy it took to transform the cream into butter.

Change doesn’t always happen in a 45-minute class period.

As a FoodCorps service member, I’ve come to appreciate that change takes time.

During FoodCorps orientation and throughout the service year, we are inundated with stories and case studies of positive impacts service members are making throughout the nation. Kids asking for seconds of kale salad, teachers tending gardens over holidays, cafeterias serving meals entirely locally-sourced. The changes are incredible, progressing healthier habits in school environments and communities at large.

However, for such changes to occur many elements evolve. In terms of local procurement, farmers, kitchens, cafeteria staff, district heads, and students must all be in support of the endeavor. Policies, business operations, infrastructuref and attitudes need to adjust for change to pass successfully and sustainably.

When change happens swiftly, not everything or everyone may be ready.

For instance, when the USDA revised nutritional guidelines and meal requirements, there was backlash  from several school communities who were not prepared for such change.

On a smaller scale, I co-directed a youth job-skill training program last summer, and one of the teens, Jon (changed for purposes of article), refused to eat the lunches we made because he didn’t like vegetables. My supervisor and I did not make exceptions for Jon, since trying new things was part of the program. One day, after working in the garden on an empty stomach, Jon got quite sick and could not participate for the rest of the day. This is not what healthy change looks like.

As service members, we start at our sites with fervor to enact and see change. We report weekly on the numbers of gardens built, children taught, lessons, classes, new meals, and even the “warm and fuzzy” successes. We are constantly thinking about the changes we are – or are not, making.

But just like when making butter, the butter is not the important part, it’s the time spent making- that’s when we learn, share, adapt, adjust, doubt, tire, get frustrated, think about giving up. Once the change is made, we stop. We celebrate for a bit, but then, move on. When change happens quickly, we lose an incredible opportunity to observe, grow and wonder. If we planted a seed and fruit popped up within a week, this whole “growing food” thing would be no fun.

The magic brews stronger the longer it takes to change.