Peer, What?! Let the Youth Lead!

Roanna_CooperThis week’s guest blog is written by second year FoodCorps California Service Member, Roanna Cooper. Serving two consecutive years with Food, What?!, a youth empowerment program in partnership with Life Lab, Roanna has had the opportunity to be a mentor for countless of youth across Santa Cruz County. Read on to learn about Food, What?! and the youth-led workshops offered.

Peer, What?! Let the Youth Lead!

Beginning in 2013, “Food, What?!” began a partnership with the Santa Cruz County Office of Education to extend its reach to hundreds more youth across the county by offering a peer-to-peer Community Educator Workshop Series in various classrooms throughout Santa Cruz and Watsonville. This has not only allowed FoodWhat to offer hundreds of area youth some of the youth empowerment, food justice and health content utilized in its core programs, but has also provided a unique opportunity for FoodWhat Alumni to step into a strong leadership role with their peers, furthering positive youth development outcomes.

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California Thursdays: Building Farm to School in Oakland Unified School District

photo 2Today’s guest poster brings us back to Oakland for a more in-depth look at California Thursdays, a program we’ve shared about a bit in the past. After a year of service with Community HealthCorps in Mendocino County, John Pleasants has joined FoodCorps California and Oakland Unified School District to strengthen the district’s California Thursdays program. Continue reading to discover how Oakland Unified is spearheading local procurement programs in 85 schools across the district.

Oakland Unified School District is changing the way it serves school food one day at a time. Every day, school kitchens in Oakland are serving lunch to over 22,000 students, and every Thursday those same kitchens are now serving locally sourced and freshly prepared meals to kids across the district.  Continue reading

CA Food for CA Kids: Farm to School Innovations webinar – now posted!

cartIn late January, we hosted a popular webinar that celebrated the innovations of three California school foodservice directors. These directors showed great leadership in enhancing their Farm to School programs through innovations in marketing. School foodservice directors navigate a complex web of challenges when it comes to getting food on the tray – and even more so when they try to bring in more fresh, healthy, and local foods. Smart marketing helps schools gain and sustain buy-in from students, staff, and the community by communicating the benefits and the appeal of Farm to School.

We’re pleased to announce that this webinar is now posted up on Vimeo, along with our previous webinar on Oakland Unified. Click here to view California Food for California Kids: Innovations from the Classroom to the Community, Part 1.

Farm to Preschool takes shape in South LA

F2P1aBonus: Farm to Preschool grant opportunity inside!

Today’s guest post is our first about the growing world of Farm to Preschool (F2P). While F2P is certainly under the umbrella of Farm to School, it’s important to tailor programming, curriculum, and meals and snacks to preschoolers in specific ways in order to get young children used to fresh foods and healthy food environments. Misty Spicer of Antioch University’s Urban Sustainability Program shares a story about introducing Los Angeles preschoolers to farmers markets. Read on to learn more!    

Fresh food got a little sweeter for preschoolers and their families this past summer, thanks to the Pacific Asian Consortium for Employment (PACE) and the Farm to Preschool program at Occidental College. A group of preschoolers chaperoned by parents and teachers left PACE’s Magnolia Place and Christian Fellowship preschool sites, located in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles, for and exciting adventure at Exposition Park before heading to the local farmers’ market.

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Earning a Spot in the Parking Lot: The story of a school produce market

Ceanna_VangelderThis FoodCorps Service Member and California native, Ceanna Vangelder, is bringing farm to school with Oakland Unified School District this year. Read on to learn about the district-wide fresh produce markets and how the district is procuring and distributing local produce into nearby schools… and parking lots.

Every Tuesday, an order of specially chosen fresh produce arrives at East Oakland PRIDE (EOP) Elementary School, and every Wednesday, with the help of my market volunteers, we make a colorful spread of fruits, vegetables, and nuts to sell in the parking lot in front of the school. It’s not quite that simple, of course, but after 11 market weeks, the positive impact of the often-challenging job is more apparent and the sales are up.

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Farm to School in Action in Yolo County

Yolo Marketplace2Today’s blogpost is another great one from Kristy Levings, Project Director with Harvest Hub Yolo (our Sacramento Valley regional lead!). Read on to learn about their recent Marketplace Exchange event, another example of the matching/”dating” model that’s so effective at bringing buyers and sellers of local food together. Here, it’s applied to Farm to School – Enjoy!

In our Farm to School world, we inevitably hear from school food service that they don’t know where to find farmers. While at the same time we also hear from farmers that they don’t know how to connect with School Food Service buyers. Oy Vey! What are we to do with two groups who seem to want to find each other but can’t?

To us, that sounds like the perfect setup – a setup for a “date!”

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