Our Spanish department recently teamed up with Acre Gourmet and Tali Biale (Food Program Manager), to combine language learning with preparing Mexican cuisine. On February 13, Chef Jose Suarez (Acre), was interviewed by middle school students. They asked him a variety of questions in Spanish, learning about his Yucatan Peninsula origins and his favorite dessert (flan). In conjunction with the interview, Mr. Suarez showed students all of the ingredients needed to make Pico de Gallo.
On February 14, students worked in groups preparing Watermelon Agua Fresca and Fruit Salad, Salsa Verde with Avocado, Pico de Gallo, and Rice Pudding with Cinnamon and Vanilla. While making the dishes, students used their reading skills to follow the recipe in Spanish. As part of the lesson plan students also wrote down 4-5 Spanish words to describe the taste of food items.
This photo shows students creating rice pudding with cinnamon and vanilla.
On October 24, kindergarteners visited McClelland’s organic farm in Petaluma. The field trip was part of our new Table to Farm food program. Prior to visiting the farm, students were introduced to pumpkins and various types of squash by our food program manager, Tali Biale. In Ms. Biale’s lesson she had girls identify foods that contain pumpkins and squash, then coordinated with Acre Gourmet (our food provider) to have delicious dishes appear in the lunchroom derived from those autumnal favorites. As part of the field experience, students had the opportunity to: select a pumpkin to take home, pet baby cows, and witness the milking process.
After the lesson and field trip, one kindergartener said, I’m very interested in squash now.
Ms. Biale, a Bay Area native, has worked with food in a plethora of ways, including: in a kitchen, on a farm, at farmers’ markets, and in after school programs. She seeks to show students how food connects to all these places and more.
We learn about food in the classroom, then taste it in the lunchroom. Food is a thread that connects all of us; it is a way to talk about culture and identity, as well as nutrition and the environment.
As part of her thoughtful work, Ms. Biale asked middle school students to share ways that our food program relates to The Hamlin School creed. Below is one response.
The school year is off and running, propelled by the new nutritious energy of Acre Gourmet, a socially responsible, environmentally conscious purveyor of all that is good to eat in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.
The move to Acre Gourmet was made after many months of thoughtful consideration. Below is an excerpt of a letter from Hamlin’s Head of School, Wanda M. Holland Greene.
By the time one Kindergarten girl finishes Grade 8 at Hamlin (in June 2026!), she will have eaten well over 1500 school lunches in our dining rooms! Wow. That’s 1500 not-to-be-missed opportunities to strengthen her body and mind with healthy and nutritious meals. That’s also 1500 important opportunities for her to experience new types and combinations of freshly prepared food. Perhaps most importantly, that’s 1500+ daily opportunities for a girl to strengthen her connection to her Hamlin sisters and deepen her appreciation of the incredible abundance of the natural world that we are so fortunate to live with here in the Bay Area.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the food we offer daily at Hamlin has a profound impact on the growth and development of our girls’ bodies and minds. That is why we have spent the last fourteen months taking a hard look at our food program, to understand how it can rise to the same level of excellence and positive impact that we expect from all areas of our educational program.