Introducing Your Golden Seed Awards Winners

Kicking off National Farm to School Month with a bang, we were so excited to announce the winners of the Golden Seed Awards in our newsletter earlier this week! The awards highlight farm to school efforts throughout California. 

watermelon-radish-at-manteca-school-district

A student at Manteca Unified shows off their harvest

With a number of competitive applicants, we honored winners across 11 regions and three award categories, including Sow, Grow and Harvest. In addition, nearly 20 schools and districts were recognized with honorable mentions.

The Golden Seed Awards were created to recognize farm to school champions and foster recognition of California schools and districts that are beginning to grow their farm to school programs. Applicants were evaluated on their unique and innovative programs as well as their contributions to the three pillars of farm to school: procurement, education and gardens.

The State of Farm to School in Orange County

Written by: Jerry Rivero, MPL
Program Manager | OC Food Access Coalition

state-of-farm-to-school-in-oc1

Click the image to view the full report

As we get ready to celebrate National Farm to School Month, it’s impossible to think about farm to school on a national scale without honoring the contributions that regional organizations have made to the movement. The Orange County Food Access Coalition (OCFAC) works on such efforts through the development of innovative, community based strategies focused on ending hunger and improving the nutritional wellbeing of underserved communities in the county.

Continue reading

Los Angeles Preschoolers Enjoy Harvest of the Month from Local Farms

Written by Rosa Romero, MEd – Farm to Preschool Director, Urban & Environmental Policy Institute

There is an exciting new Farm to Preschool Pilot underway in Los Angeles! Since 2009, the Farm to Preschool (F2P) Program at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College (UEPI) has partnered with Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment Early Childhood Education (PACE ECE) to develop curriculum to promote healthy eating and an understanding of where food comes from. PACE ECE operates 14 fully licensed Head Start State Preschool child-care and development centers serving 1,110 children age three to five throughout Los Angeles. Over the past few years UEPI and PACE ECE developed a comprehensive model Wellness Policy for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity that incorporates mandated policies such as making drinking water available to students indoors and outdoors (Assembly Bill 2084), offering nutrition and health education classes for parents (Head Start  Performance Standards: 1304.23d) as well as specific F2P components of incorporating local foods into meals and snacks, weekly nutrition lessons, taste tests, gardening, and connecting with regional farmers through field-trips to farms and farmers’ market and classroom visits by farmers. This model wellness policy has been used to train dozens of preschools in the Los Angeles area on how to create similar policies at their sites. Continue reading

School’s Out: Who’s Hungry for Health?

Written by: Daiana Baez, FoodCorps Service Member with CAFF and Life Lab

The splash of rocks skipping, the skidding of tires, the sweet whispers of grasshoppers, and the silent buzz of bees are all familiar noises connected with summer. However, perhaps much louder, is the sound of a collective hunger that stirs all season long. The USDA has estimated that 30.3 million children depend on the National School Lunch Program to ease their hunger aches during the school year. Unfortunately, as soon as the last bell rings, only 2.6 million children are fortunate enough to find facilities providing food assistance during the summer. But with the lack of resources, and overwhelming amount of challenges nutrition services facilities face in low-resource, low-income communities, the privilege of health dilutes in a sea of calories and sugar. This summer, nonetheless, food fighters in Pajaro Valley Unified School District together worked to create a nutrition program that reached five different schools, and almost every single student at: Starlight Elementary, Ohlone Elementary, Landmark Elementary, Freedom Elementary, and Cesar Chavez Middle School.

6-plant-part burrito

6-plant-part burrito

To provide PVUSD summer school students with not just calories, but a sample of health, the district’s Teach Project (supported by Grind Out Hunger) provided teams of nutrition educators with enough resources for each of their students to eat a rainbow. Continue reading

Friendly Red Wigglers Amend School Garden Soil

Written by: Kim Oldham, FoodCorps Service Member with UCCE Central Sierra 

I have asked children on many occasions what they want to do in the garden and almost every time it leads to the same thing – they want to dig in the dirt. I question my maturity daily because if you were to ask me that same question you would get the same response. One of my best memories with the kids is their first encounter with a Black Soldier Fly Larvae. You can just imagine the screams of disgust as they called me over. I calmly picked it up and had a discussion about it and then simply placed it in the little girls hand and said ”Here you go you can put it back in the compost so it can do its job.” Without hesitation she skipped off and put it back. At that moment besides the internal giggling I realized how much I influence my students.  Since my service I have tried to create as many ways to give these kids the opportunity to get dirty. So lets talk compost! Continue reading