As things stand, students across New Mexico will return to school in the Fall and follow a hybrid model. Teachers, parents, and students alike are concerned about safety, and funding is tight. One pioneering outdoor gardening elective is being cut.
Van Buren Middle School in Southeast Albuquerque has been leading the way in teaching gardening for credit for more than a decade. But the school's administration has changed, and because of budget concerns, the garden program has been eliminated.
Travis McKenzie is a teacher and the co-founder of Project Feed the Hood. He said innovative classes are crucial during the pandemic.
"I mean, in the middle of a pandemic, the garden elective, in my opinion, is one of the safest" McKenzie said. "We can be outdoors. I can social distance the kids. They're actually producing food that can be given to families in high need during this pandemic. "
Mckenzie said the class allows students to address how fragile our food system is and this connects to any curricula, since at the root, it's all about problem-solving.
"If you think about it, school campuses could be a major contributor to food security in the future" Mckenzie said.
McKenzie is searching for community support, saying the program will keep students safe, while cultivating mental health and community involvement.