Category Archives: Service Spotlight

How to Turn Leftover Kale into a Celebrated Vegetable

Written by: Aislíng Mitchell, FoodCorps Service Member with Oakland Unified School District

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 4.07.35 PMI’ve always loved working with school gardens to grow healthy, happy kids. But I want to make sure our hard work continues outside of our garden walls. My new strategy started when I discovered our school’s farmers market always had leftover kale. I questioned our local parents and discovered that the parents in our community did not believe their kids would eat this dark green leaf. Continue reading

Say No to Takis! Fifth Graders Work to Make Their School a Healthier Place

Written by: Elizabeth Esparza, FoodCorps Service Member with Pittsburg Unified School District 


Fifth graders at Willow Cove Elementary in Pittsburg, CA make an alternative snack to Takis. The secret recipe, you ask? It’s just lime, cayenne, and freshly cut jicama.

Fifth graders at Willow Cove Elementary in Pittsburg are on a mission to make their school Takis free. Takis are a popular spicy rolled tortilla chip snack, similar to Hot Cheetos in spice and unhealthiness. For a project in class, students began to do some research on the unhealthy and potentially harmful ingredients present in the snack and found that they just could not keep the knowledge to themselves. Continue reading

California Thursdays: Collective Action Day

Written by: Sandy Curwood, RDN, MS, Director of Child Nutrition Services with Conejo Valley Unified School District 

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Director of Child Nutrition Services, Sandy Curwood, serves up a California Thursdays® recipe at the CA Farm to School Network Conference last spring.

California Thursdays® is what’s for lunch in school cafeterias across the golden state. On March 17th, 58 California school districts collectively took action showcasing the abundance of seasonal, regionally procured, delicious and nutritious foods in school cafeterias.  Continue reading

Farm to School? More like Farm AT School!

Written by: Lucas Hill, FoodCorps Service Member with UCCE Central Sierra

unnamed-2When I first stepped onto the 2 acre parcel that would become the focus of my service, way back in September, it was overflowing with tomatoes, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers. This was the abundant harvest of the previous summer, the first growing season at the Calaveras High School Farm. But, almost immediately after I stepped into my new role as school farm coordinator, the weather turned and suddenly I was fighting to keep meager lettuce and kale alive through biting frosts and short, cloudy days. Trying to run a farm or garden at a school means following the academic calendar. So, how do you build a farm program against the inevitable seasonal misfit? While I can only speak from my own experience, I think others might find some nuggets of useful information from what we have been working on for the past several months at Calaveras High School.   Continue reading

The Life Cycle of a Produce Market Seedling

Written by: Cassie Spindler, FoodCorps Service Member with Oakland Unified School District 

 IMG_0291There are so many joyful moments as a FoodCorps service member, and they originate from the biggest successes, like sourcing 17,000 weekly servings of local and organic oranges for our Harvest of the Month program, to the smallest, like a student coming back for second helpings of a new food after you had to wheedle them to take first helpings to begin with. And there are teachable moments aplenty as well, as many for you as for your students. Of course: sometimes the days are long, sometimes there’s fried rice from recipe testing stuck to the inside of your car, and sometimes the bureaucracy of effecting change seems insurmountable, but at the end of the day, everybody agrees: we do it for the kids. Continue reading

Recreating Habitats for an Edible Schoolyard

Written by: Ashley Parrish-Decker, FoodCorps Service Member with Ventura Unified School District 

We got 4 inches of rain on Wednesday, January 6th, and unfortunately, not much of it was captured. In fact, the rain was so poorly infiltrated that major flooding occurred and caused some schooIMG_1495l classrooms to flood throughout the Ventura Unified School District. “Because of the drought we have lost many of our trees and a lot of grass in the back here and that is why on Wednesday we had a ‘river’ rushing through,” Principal Mrs. McMullen said while shoveling mud off the black top at Loma Vista Elementary.

Continue reading