The Civics Lab

How a Middle School in Austin is Making Salsa and Growing Young Entrepreneurs

March 31, 2022 David Thomason Season 2
The Civics Lab
How a Middle School in Austin is Making Salsa and Growing Young Entrepreneurs
Show Notes Transcript

Civics Lab team members went to John P.  Ojeda Middle School, in Southeast Austin to discuss a project that teachers and students are collaborating to grow, market and finance the production of salsa.  Students and teachers have literally turned computer rooms into greenhouses and are applying the spirit of American entrepreneurship to address access to healthy foods.   Join in on this week's quick take!

Websites on what Austin is doing to address food insecurity:
https://www.austintexas.gov/content/austin-travis-county-food-policy-board

https://reeis.usda.gov/web/crisprojectpages/0219788-central-texas-foodshed-assessment.html

https://www.austintexas.gov/page/food-system-research-reports

Del Valle ISD Link

Speaker 1:

This is civics lab. Quick take today's quick take , we go to ojedo middle school to discuss building a garden, to create a salsa that I'm sure the community is going to enjoy. Here's our quick take ,

Speaker 2:

The civics lab team is here at OGE middle school, which is in Southeast Austin, south of Ben white, just west of the airport, and just east of Mons drive, which is really one of the areas that are focusing on in the civics lab related to food insecurities. This area of, of Austin has , um , in terms of the total insecurity food insecurity population is one of the , one of the areas , um , and actually OTA middle school is part of Dell valley is D which I was surpris because I've lived here almost 25 years. And I did not realize Del valley ISD came in this far west into the city. I always thought this was part of Austin ISD . So that's something that was very eyeopening to me. And the second, the , the , just the number of kids in this school percentage wise that are economically disadvantaged. We looked up data from the Texas Tribune and the data suggested that almost 90% of the kids at this school are economically disadvantaged. When you compare that to areas, other parts of the city, Austin ISD has a , a little bit over 50% of the kids are economically disadvantaged and in E's ISD , it's less than 5% of the kids. So the further east, the more economically disadvantaged that is a startling fact to me. And we actually have here , um, on the civics side team, several of our team members. And I thought I would just kinda let them talk a little bit about why we're here, what some things that the kids are doing and how we're gonna help them kind of build healthy food , um, entrepreneurial skills.

Speaker 3:

All right . My name's Cameron Crowder . Um, essentially some of the things that we are here to do is to help them , um , build up their community garden and unveil it today , um, and just get them on the track to taking charge of , um, their own food and where they get their food and the types of food that they eat.

Speaker 4:

My name is Kay mans. Uh , another reason we're here is to talk to the teachers, see what kind of material and tools they're lacking , um , so that we can reach out to community members , uh , other healthy food stops city counselors to get the donated goods so that they can make this like a sustainable long lasting program within their school.

Speaker 5:

My name is Michael BKE , hopefully moving forward, we can take all this information that we've gathered and we can continue to spread awareness, whether it be at city council meetings or with other organizations that we're partnering with. So we can help the school district as much as possible and the school in particular to continue building up their community garden.

Speaker 2:

So what are they gonna do with the garden? What do you , what are they saying they want to do with , uh , ultimately with the ingredients? What are they trying to do? They're trying to make salsa. They make salsa. Yeah , go . Hey , it is .

Speaker 1:

So we're in Noha middle school. Can you tell me your name and

Speaker 6:

Hi , my name is Peggy Pruit. I'm a teacher at ODA .

Speaker 1:

So tell me about it. Like you were just saying you've lived here in Del valley for a while . Yeah,

Speaker 6:

Well, I've been a , a teacher in Del valley for over 20 years. And so this is something that I know Del valley has dealt with. Um , food insecurity being in a food desert. I actually used to work out at Hornsby , which is even further out than this. And I just, you know, I know the family is closely and I hear their stories and I know this is something that they desperately want and need. And if we could even get to the point where we have some kind of community garden , I mean, I think that would be really helpful for them. Um , but just this , I don't know. I mean , I don't know what else to say about it. It's just very exciting. And I think finally, you know, watching Dell valley grow and, you know, just seeing it just become a bigger part of Austin where it used to be something that was just like this little place out in the middle of nowhere out by old, you know, airport. And now it's, it's a part of Austin. It's a part of the community and it's just getting bigger. So I

Speaker 1:

Don't know. And y'all are gonna turn this into what are, y'all gonna turn in. Uh , you're gonna put these ingredients together. What are you making?

Speaker 6:

Do you wanna know the big hopes and dreams of this? Yeah , because I have big

Speaker 1:

Hopes. Yeah . What are they ,

Speaker 6:

I mean, the long term goal of this is that right now we don't have in Del valley, any sustainability classes, we don't have any extracurriculars in middle school that have to do with farm to table classes. And so my hope and dream is that we can bring this here. So every year, you know, we can raise the plants, we can grow the food. Hopefully we can share it with the community, something like that long term , but having a class where kids can actually come in, do project based , learning and learn like the Texas state skills through projects. So I think this is something that we can really do. Like it's been a dream of mine for a long time.

Speaker 1:

So you're , you're speaking the language of the civics lab. You'll learn

Speaker 7:

That art , thank you, civics lab.

Speaker 1:

And so ultimately in this case, you wanna make salsa. That's

Speaker 6:

What we're doing this this semester. This is like a , you know, this is the start. So can I tell you kind of where it came from? Yeah . Okay. So in January, all this just started in January. So the state said that we needed to, because of COVID we had to provide extra enrichment. Um , and so what we did is we were like, we wanna do something fun for the kids. This should be a fun time for 'em . And so we were like, well, let's just start a business. Let's, let's give it a try. And so we have about half hour, every day to kind of put this together. And so we started in January with just the seeds we planted the seeds, the kids learned about, you know, how to do plants. The kids learned about, you know , uh , what else ? Oh my gosh . So much we put in there , um , how to grow the seeds. And then now we're finally at the point where we're putting the plants in the ground, we may not be able to harvest everything early enough, but , um , we're going to , um, make the salsa and then with the community, bring it in and sell it to the community. So hope that's okay.

Speaker 1:

That's more than okay. Okay,

Speaker 6:

Good.

Speaker 1:

It's incredible. Okay. Because it builds entrepreneurship skills. Yes. It builds sustainability questions. You highlight an issue of access to food and food insecurities. You're starting with kids so they can understand the basic issues of food. Yes. And you're doing it by having them do it. Thank you . Not putting a book in front of them talking about it .

Speaker 6:

Yes, exactly. They're doing it.

Speaker 1:

This is a , uh , more than incredible. This is shifting the focus of how we think of education.

Speaker 6:

Yes . Yes. It's. It's

Speaker 1:

Shifting the focus . God bless all of you. Thank

Speaker 6:

You . Oh my God. I'm so excited.