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NATO summit cash to fund vegetable gardens at 60 city schools

The city of Chicago will invest $1 million of unspent NATO Summit money on the development of educational vegetable gardens at 60 Chicago Public Schools.

The money — unused federal and private funding raised by the NATO host committee — will go to the Kitchen Community, a nonprofit that will organize and implement the Learning Gardens program in playgrounds at schools throughout the city, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Sunday at Ruiz Elementary School, where students grow vegetables that are served in the school cafeteria.

The Kitchen Community already has installed 14 gardens with funding from philanthropists and businesses. Individual CPS schools can apply for a garden and the Kitchen Community will evaluate the request based in part on capacity and intent to integrate the garden into the academic curriculum.

The city already has invested $6 million in Chicago Park District capital funds and NATO legacy funds on transformative park projects. The city also gave $1 million NATO legacy funds to the Youth Working for Success program to provide 400 youths with mentoring, after-school programs and potential jobs.

A small group of protesters denounced the investment during a time when schools are closing.

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