Little Owl School
3426 Linden Avenue,
Long Beach, CA 90807
We value eating together as a special opportunity to slow down and connect with each other, with ourselves and the needs of our own bodies, and with the source and story of the food we eat.
With a full-time chef working in a professional kitchen centrally located in the school, Little Owl School provides children the unique opportunity to experience food from many different angles. Breakfast, lunch, and snacks are produced fresh daily using high quality, responsibly sourced ingredients. The kitchen is open to the classrooms, allowing the sights, sounds, and aromas of real cooking to mingle naturally with the other activities of the day. A child-friendly counter and adjacent kitchen studio invite children to visit the kitchen, engage with the chefs, discuss the menu for the day, participate in preparing ingredients for the meals, and generally involve themselves in the process of providing food for their school community.
We realize our responsibility in not only providing Little Owl children with their daily dietary needs but also in helping them form positive, life-long relationships with food and eating. Snacks and meals are crafted to be delicious and nutritious, focusing on in-season produce, whole grains and legumes, and organic meats, eggs, and dairy. Clean, simple preparations and presentations serve to highlight the quality and pure flavors of the ingredients.
Meals are served family style, with seven children and a teacher at each table. Children serve themselves, portioning out their own desired amount of food, passing, and helping serve others at the table. Through this process, children develop practical tactile skills as well as social relationships with their peers and teachers. Our goal is to provide them with skills, so they develop healthy eating habits based on their individual food needs. Little Owl School is a nut-free environment.
Little Owl is a proponent of the culinary philosophy that maintains cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. The Little Owl kitchen advocates for a food economy that is “good, clean, and fair.” We collaborate with a community of local farmers whose dedication to sustainable agriculture assures our kitchen a weekly supply of fresh and delicious ingredients.
In September 2012 Little Owl School became part of The Edible Schoolyard Project edibleschoolyard.org. Our teachers engage students in an “eco-gastronomic” curriculum. By actively involving students in all aspects of the food cycle, The Little Owl Edible Schoolyard is an education program that instills the knowledge and values needed to build a humane and sustainable future. Little Owl Preschool integrates gardening, cooking, and sharing meals and snacks into the core curriculum. We use food traditions to teach, nurture, and empower preschool students.
The following principles are used for menu planning guidelines:
- Appropriate portion sizes for each required meal component set by U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines of the Child and Adult Care Food Program.
- Consideration of students food allergies and special needs.
- Local, seasonal, and sustainable produce.
- Collaboration with the curriculum and planning of the Little Owl School teaching staff and students.
- Guidelines and menu ideas from farmtopreschool.org
- Using Alice Water’s Edible Schoolyard Project as a model.
- Recipes, experiences, and thoughts from “The Languages of Food”, by Reggio Children, “The Art of Simple Food” and ” Edible Schoolyard”, by Alice Waters.
- Ideas and recipes from local farm-to-table chefs and farmers.
Some of the ways in which we involve our students in food preparation, learning, and enjoyment: :
- Engage the senses: smell the aromas, notice the colors, feel, compare & contrast textures
- Discuss presentation
- Discuss seasonality
- Cultivating, planting, harvesting
- Prepare ingredients, organize components of a recipe, meis en plas
- Practice safe and healthy food preparation habits
- Combine ingredients together
- Add spices to taste
- Set the table together, present the dish
- Practice closure of a meal by cleaning up and practicing gratitude and reflecting on the food
- And so much more — the combination of possibilities are endless!
Our Reggio-inspired kitchen is a place of symbolic and cultural significance, expressing care, attention to our community, and the value of differences in customs and traditions. Our kitchen is open to students, teachers, and families. Several of our parents volunteer to help the chef in preparation, clean-up, and facilitating student involvement, thus opening the rich, fragrant, and delicate dialogue between children and the kitchen to their families and home kitchens as well.
Little Owl School