Written by: Jerry Rivero, MPL
Program Manager | OC Food Access Coalition
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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.
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
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.
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
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
Written by: Ben Feldman, FoodCorps Service Member with North Coast Opportunities
When my elementary school students see me on campus, they eagerly yell at me, sometimes all the way across playgrounds and long hallways, “Hi, Mr. Ben!” But when my students see me running errands at the hardware store or pharmacy, they usually seem a bit shy and confused (I suspect many of them think Mr. Ben lives in the school garden and never leaves). Continue reading
Written by: Lydia Yamaguchi, FoodCorps Service Member with Oakland Unified School District
This piece is an overview of FoodCorps service in one of the largest school districts in California (i.e. Oakland Unified School District). Lydia takes us a on walk through of a “typical day of service” and how Oakland Unified is promoting farm to school through direct education and weekly farmers’ market stands. Continue reading