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Noah_DonnellKilmer-2This story was written by returning FoodCorps service member Noah Donnell-Kilmer, who serves with Garden School Foundation in Los Angeles. Read on to understand the roller coaster ride of teaching and the stories that make the chaos of teaching in school gardens and cooking for kids all worthwhile in this work.

Cooking with elementary schoolers is always an exercise in relinquishing control of children. Yes, you have a set recipe and a vision of how said recipe should look, with proper ratios of ingredients, well chopped pieces, and a beautiful appearance. However, this is not what cooking class is about. You are more of a guide in a cooking class.

You can show them all the knife skills and impress upon them the importance of knife safety. You can show the proper amounts of each ingredient to add and teach them all about the nutritional values of fruits and vegetables. Yet, at the end of the day, cooking classes, much like garden classes, are spaces for experimentation and discovery. In cooking class, new tastes are tried, knives are used for the first time, bicycle blenders spin, the seed to table cycle is completed, and kitchen vocabularies expand with new descriptive terms.

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Monica_DrazbaFoodCorps service member Monica Drazba is serving with University of California Cooperative Extension in the Central Sierra. As a Bay Area transplant in El Dorado County, Monica has already experienced the true definition of "community" in gold country. Read on to learn about her service year so far and how El Dorado County makes farm to school happen.

At the beginning of September I moved to El Dorado as the county’s first FoodCorps service member.  “El Dorado?” I pondered when offered the position, “where is that again?” Like a true millennial I “Googled” it, and realized to my surprise that I knew the place. “It’s that region you drive through to get to South Lake Tahoe. That in-between place-- the foothills!”  Actually, by ‘knew the place’, I really meant that I peered out the back-seat window while my parents drove along Highway 50 on my childhood vacations.

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This week's guest post is by Aimee Retzler of Sierra Harvest (formerly Live Healthy Nevada County), a community organization in the Sierras that supports family farmers, child health, and other food systems programs in Nevada County. The organization also received a coveted USDA Farm to School Grant in 2014 to expand their farm to school program from 11 to 15 schools and establish a 2-acre educational farm, as well as ramp up nutrition education and connections with local farmers and chefs in the community. The story below is one example of that growing, inspiring work empowered by these grants.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 6.16.12 PMTasting Week is a special time here in Nevada County. The weeklong event combines the creativity of chefs with the natural curiosity of children. Children are able to expand their experience of different foods and flavors with a focus on fresh, locally-grown food. Chefs from all over the county introduced students from twenty elementary schools to delicious, fresh preparations of local ingredients. Many of these local items came from a farmer the students know through Sierra Harvest’s Farm to School program.

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foodcorps_7559_27055_2014_October_16_S0069793This great story was written by Ashley Marquez, the new FoodCorps service member at San Diego Unified School District. Read on to learn about her service year so far, and the impressive range of programs SDUSD offers to improve the school food environment.

“Raise your hand if you’ve never had a green grape before?,” I asked the second graders. In an instant, nearly half of them had their hands raised. Wow was the first thought that came to mind, but it was quickly washed away with an epiphany – I am in the perfect position to make a difference in my community as a FoodCorps service member at San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD).

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NFTS_logo_colorAs many of us know, October is National Farm to School Month -- a time for lifting up Farm to School stories from around the nation, celebrating how far we've come over the past decade in linking family farms and school gardens to school classrooms and cafeterias, and looking to the future for how we'll continue to grow this movement.

We've got some great things to share from around the state and on the national level to highlight the success of Farm to School Month 2014. Check them out below!

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