Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama Girls to Attend Sidwell Friends School, Which Has a Model Lunch Program of Local, Organic Food & Environmental Stewardship

Katie McCormick Lelyveld, an East Wing spokeswoman, has confirmed that President-elect Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama's daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, will attend Sidwell Friends School when the family moves to Washington, DC.   Sidwell, founded in 1883, is a private Quaker school with a campus in northwest Washington for grades 5-12, and another in suburban Bethesda, Md., for kindergarten through fourth grade.  Malia is in fifth grade, and Sasha is in second grade.

President-elect Obama has historically had an interest in promoting school lunch programs; while a Senator, he voted for the Farm Bill, which has $10.3 Billion earmarked for nutrition assistance, including school lunches.  Sidwell has a cutting-edge lunch program that encourages ethical eating and environmental stewardship for the campus community, according to the school's parent portal.  

Led by chef Rachelle Hill, the school cafeterias use local and organic foods whenever possible, have banned oils with trans fats, use washable tableware when possible, unbleached napkins, and have a recycling program, according to the school website.  Food stations in the cafeteria include a "Greens" station, a Yogurt and fresh fruit station, a sticky rice station, and hot & cold entrees, as well as soups.  A review of menu offerings on the parent portal shows an impressive series of lunches highlighting local, organic and seasonal offerings.  

 The menus for the two days school is in session this week are a microcosm of the seasonal aesthetic:
Monday, Nov. 24: Middle/Upper School: Carrot Celeriac Soup, Cucumber, Mango & Red Onion Salad, Fattoush (pictured), Field Salad, Fusilli Pasta with Carbonara Sauce, Fusilli Pesto Pasta Garlic Green Beans, Fresh Bartlett Pears
Lower School: Snack: Herb de Provence Pita Lunch: Lentil Soup, Chili Mac Casserole, Vegetarian Pasta Bake, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Fresh Bartlett Pears
Tuesday, Nov. 25: Middle/Upper School: Miso Soup, Oriental Cous Cous, Japanese Kabocha Salad, Blackened Portobello Salad, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Brocolli Lo Mein, Asian Medley, Vegetable Fried Rice, Sliced Pineapple & Fortune Cookies

Lower School: Snack: Rice Cakes Lunch: Miso Soup with Tofu, Natural Chicken & Asian Saute, Local Vegetable Asian Saute, Sticky Rice, Clementines. Check out more ethical mini-gourmet menus here.

In a country that is waging a longstanding battle with childhood obesity, diabetes, and a terrible fast-food aesthetic for school lunches, Sidwell is an oasis of ethically minded eating and sustainability.

Sidwell has a number of famous alums, including former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Gore Vidal, Charles Lindbergh...and also a bunch of alums who've published foodie books; among these are Trevor Corson '87, bestselling author of The Story of Sushi and The Secret Life of Lobsters; Alison Clare Steingold '98, author of Small Bites, Big Nights; Lisa Yockelson '72, author of Baking for Gift-Giving; Cobblers, Crisps, and Deep-Dish Pies; The Efficient Epicure and 8 other cookery books; Ann Clark Espuelas '84, author of The Real Food Revival: Aisle by Aisle, Morsel by Morsel; Catherine O'Neill Grace '62, author of 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving and I Want to be a Chef; and Louise Hawes '61, author of Tales from the Cafeteria #1: Spaghetti and Spooks; Tales from the Cafeteria #2: Things That Go Bump in Your Soup.

Mrs. Reagan, who attended Sidwell from 1925-28, never published an official cookbook, but scattered recipes through her various memoirs, including I Love You, Ronnie. These recipes are now littered all over the 'net like happy confetti; go here for a Google recap. (Above, Mrs. Reagan in the White House Kitchen circa 1982, checkin' the chow for a state dinner)

*Top photo a compilation; Reagan photo via the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library