Labor Day potluck pushes better school meals

Michelle Mapp and Rachel Carroll, of Oakland’s Temescal neighborhood, took their 8-year-old daughter Lauren to Labor Day lunch yesterday, taking their seats at a white-cloth-covered table in the middle of Berkeley’s Martin Luther King Civic Center Park.    The menu, on their plates, at least, was enchiladas, red grapes, and freshly squeezed lemonade.  It was a community potluck–with a purpose. The three gathered at the end of one of five long tables lined with bright red apples. As Lauren alternated between…

Schools urge calm, planning for swine flu

As tens of thousands of children in North Oakland returned to school this week, local health officials and school districts were already bracing for the upcoming flu season, said Alameda County Public Health Department spokesperson Sherri Willis. “For the first time ever, we have two strains of flu and two vaccines to deal with. That would be a tall order even if one of those wasn’t a pandemic,” Willis said, referring to the swine flu virus, which since the school…

Parks fire prevention plan makes headway

As flames continued to rage elsewhere in the state, a local voter-approved wildfire prevention project for the East Bay hills moved toward implementation in Oakland last night.  In the fifth in a series of six public hearings on the brush-clearing, wood-chopping Wildfire Hazard Reduction and Resource Management Plan, three dozen citizens listened without major objection as a draft plan of the project and an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) draft were discussed. Voters in western Alameda and Contra Costa counties originally…

A new farmer’s market grows at Children’s Hospital

Patients and doctors at Children’s Hospital are now meeting Tuesdays at the new farmer’s market that takes place from 2 to 7 in the parking lot. Jen Cook, a pediatrician there, teamed up with Brett Bennner from Phat Beets, on Mandela Parkway, to establish the market. Cook was inspired after seeing the market at Kaiser in Oakland. “A light bulb went off. It makes total sense,” said Cook. “A hospital is a place of healing and health. A lot of…

A produce store grows in West Oakland

Among the dilapidated housing, the abandoned, weed covered lots and graffiti marked walls of West Oakland sits the Mandela Foods Cooperative, an organic grocery store. It’s an ideal place to start an organic grocery store and nutritional education center, said Stephanie Camus.  “There hasn’t been a real grocery store here for 30 years.” Camus is one of eight workers and owners of the cooperative that opened at 1430 7th Street earlier this month. “We’re trying to provide healthier food for…

Not your average bike shop

The Wheels of Justice cyclery, nestled in the foothills of Montclair, is a community-oriented bike shop whose aim is to create a welcoming atmosphere for families and give back to the children of the bay area. Daniel Watson and Justice Baxter (from whom the store draws its name) opened the store in 2003 because they wanted kids in the area to have opportunities that they lacked when they were young.

Celebrating Earth Day, Oakland-style

In easy view of crisscrossing highways and towering industrial parks, dozens of people marched through East Oakland’s flatlands wearing white surgical masks on Saturday. Families pushing strollers, men in suits, and kids with skateboards walked from Tassafaronga Recreation Center to Acorn Woodland Elementary School to celebrate ‘Love Yo Mama’ Earth Day and to call attention to environmental degradation in inner city neighborhoods.

Alameda County readies pools for a safe summer

As the California heat begins to usher in the summer, as well as usher water enthusiasts into the swimming pools, counties, including Alameda County, are integrating a new federal law that will further protect people from accidental drownings in public pools and spas.

Berkeley farmers’ markets become zero waste zones

By Lauren Rudser and Brittney Johnson/Oakland North The three weekly Berkeley farmers’ markets are now zero waste zones. The goal is to reduce, recycle or compost all materials generated by the markets –- and shoppers are asked to do their part when it comes to how they transport their purchases home.