This striking hen is named, if you can believe it, Firetruck Taco. (Photo/Courtesy East Bay JCC)
This striking hen is named, if you can believe it, Firetruck Taco. (Photo/Courtesy East Bay JCC)

Meet Firetruck Taco, a chicken named via JCC preschool bidding war

Two families won the opportunity to name one of the school’s hens at this year’s JCC East Bay Preschool Art Auction.

The plucky winner: Firetruck Taco. 

The annual auction is typically an opportunity for families to bid on art created by the preschoolers to raise money for the program, but this year’s chicken naming option was the hot item at the event in late May.

After some competitive bidding, two families — the Goodmans and the Jacksons — came to a truce and agreed to pay a winning bid of $900 each for the honor of bestowing the hen with a name. One family picked “Firetruck.” The other chose “Taco.”

The Berkeley school will install a plaque on the chicken coop this summer to cluck about the families’ considerable contributions.

The JCC’s three preschool classes have helped raise Firetruck Taco and her sisters Miriam, Esther and Cita from hatchlings as part of their curriculum learning the value of responsibility, according to preschool director Nicole Acland-Whear. Students learned to change the bedding, give them fresh water and food, play with them appropriately and nurture them as they grew from chicks to hens.

The project began in March and was the brainchild of Acland-Whear and assistant director Sabrina May. They were looking for a way to incorporate more outdoor, hands-on learning with Jewish values when they hatched their plan to raise chicks.

“One thing that we do here is that we use a variety of Jewish values to guide our teaching,” said Acland-Whear. “Tikkun olam is the big one and the idea of repairing the Earth and caring for others is important to us, so we thought raising chickens would be perfect.”

The four hens live in a coop in the preschool garden, which also features a mud kitchen — a setup for children to pretend to prepare and cook food using water, mud and other natural or found materials. The outdoor play space is accessible every day, and the preschool classes will continue to care for the chickens.

Firetruck Taco laid her first egg, an elegant blue, on Saturday. Acland-Whear expects her and the others to each lay one egg a day for the next four to eight years. The preschool will use the eggs to make its weekly challah.

Lea Loeb
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.