A mosaic made by teachers, students and staff at Sanchez Elementary School.

For the next two weeks, all membership fees for 18 Reasons, the Mission-based nonprofit dedicated to programs on food and community, will go directly to funding scholarships for a food and culinary education camp for kids this summer.

This will be the third summer running for the “All Plant Parts” camp, but if all goes well, it will be the first time that most participants will be able to attend for free. In the past, part of the organization’s membership revenue went toward camp scholarships, but the new funding strategy will allow even more low-income families to participate.

“We’re offering this because we want to be a camp that’s open to anybody, not just one demographic or another,” said 18 Reasons’ director, Rosie Gill.

Each scholarship for the week-long educational camp costs $300. Anyone who purchases an 18 Reasons membership before April 20 will be directly funding the scholarships.

The camp takes place at Sanchez Elementary School in the Mission and is based on a curriculum created by Gill and Melanie Pepper of Education Outside, a local organization that partners with San Francisco schools to create urban gardens and environmental curricula. Over the course of this academic year, Melanie Pepper has worked with students at Sanchez to maintain a vegetable garden at the school.

At about 100 by 20 feet, the garden is a great resource, she said, but during the year there is only enough time and space to give each student a small sample of the food it produces. The summer camp is an opportunity for students to spend more time outside and receive more individual attention. The two previous camps have each had 12 students.

“It’s a small-scale camp. Having the smaller ratio means that students get a lot out of it,” Pepper said. “I’m super excited. It will be fun to meet different personalities in the garden.”

During the camp, kids learn about soil and the parts of plants, and gain culinary skills. Organizers hope the camp will help combat child obesity and bolster student nutrition.

“We’re going to do all of our eating in the garden,” Pepper said. “The majority of what we’re eating is coming right from the garden, so that’s going to be super fun.”

Last year the San Francisco branch of Slow Food USA funded two scholarships, and the camp’s organizers are in conversation with the organization about funding some this year as well.

To get the word out about the scholarships and membership sales, 18 Reasons is partnering with Carrotmob, a San Francisco-based group that organizes groups of consumers to support businesses that make socially responsible investments. A $50 18 Reasons membership opens access to workshops on subjects like cheese making and beer brewing, and other perks, like a free scoop of ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.

The All Plant Parts camp is June 10–14, 2013. Memberships to 18 Reasons can be purchased here.

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