The weather outside might be frightful. But that doesn’t keep Dave Gorman and his students at the Career Collegiate Institute from thinking green. Green veggies, that is, along with a host of other nutritional food.
Gorman is an instructor at the school which is part of Buffalo Public Schools Adult Education Division and serves out-of-school youth who want to complete their education and earn a high school equivalency diploma. Classes are offered in collaboration with Erie Community College’s Pathways to Success (ECC) initiative.
Students engage in a rigorous curriculum that is augmented with several enrichment opportunities. These include preparation for college entrance exams, financial education, community service projects, and life skills training which includes how to eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Last spring, CCI implemented an urban gardening curriculum and organized a hands-on project to build and maintain raised beds just outside the entrance to the facility on St. Lawrence Avenue in North Buffalo. Over the summer, students harvested zucchini, peppers, kale, and tomatoes and learned about growing other vegetables as well. Area neighbors were also invited to share in the bounty of fresh produce. More recently, Gorman connected with a Master Gardener through Cornell Cooperative Extension for advice and contact with other community garden programs in the area.
In the fall, Cornell Cooperative Extension brought Eat Smart New York (ESNY) to CCI. The state-funded program provides nutrition education materials in local communities on a variety of topics such as: healthy eating on a budget, smart shopping for vegetables and fruit, healthy meal planning, basic cooking and food safety skills, weight control and physical activity. As part of the curriculum, students learned how to prepare a healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack.
Gorman refers to the overall experience as “root to table,” i.e., knowing where food comes from, how it has been grown and raised, and making better decisions about how to cook and eat. Students also learned about sustainability of the food supply.
Just prior to the holiday break, the students celebrated the culmination of the program by preparing and serving a meal for close to 100 CCI students and staff along with representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension and ESNY. Experiences like this are integral components of CCI’s comprehensive approach to ensuring that students earn a high school equivalency diploma, gain basic life skills, and continue on to college and/or the workforce.
CCI’s students often live in households where making ends meet is a challenge and they have to work in order for the family to survive. Some are homeless. Some have children of their own. As a result, they are well-served by the extensive wrap around services provided at CCI that have allowed them to continue their studies while addressing these challenges.
The school supports students with mentoring, counseling and special education services. This is in addition to classroom instruction and one-on-one guidance for post-secondary education and/or a career.
Classes are free and enrollment is open throughout the year. For more information, call (716) 838-7574 or visit UpSkill.org.