Small Steps are Huge Wins: Two Months of Service Told in Haikus

Written By: Amy Garfinkel, FoodCorps Service Member with San Diego Unified School District

Healthy school meal options in San Diego Unified include: savory tortilla soup, scratch-cooked ribs, whole grain buns, fat-free milk, and a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies from the salad bar.

Healthy school meal options in San Diego Unified include: savory tortilla soup, scratch-cooked ribs, whole grain buns, fat-free milk, and a plethora of fresh fruits and veggies from the salad bar.

It’s September 1st
I’m thrilled to start my service
It’s a dream come true.

Healthy school meals mean
Better ingredients and
Fewer processed foods.

Hands-on lessons mean
Nutrition and gardening
Taught in every class.

School culture of health
Means each school strives to promote
Overall wellness.

A year as FoodCorps
Means helping my service site
Achieve these ideals.

Food Services in
San Diego Unified
Is my service site.

I’m amazed by the
Robust Farm to School Program
And passionate peers.

Social media
And a monthly newsletter
Highlight successes.

Teachers can check out
“No-Cook Cooking Carts” to use
For nutrition ed.

Farm to School Month is
Celebrated by serving
Healthy new salads.

The district stocks three
Hundred plus salad bars with
Healthy food each day.

Garden to Café:
Serving garden-grown produce
On school salad bars.

San Diego boasts
A plethora of driven
Organic farmers.

Plums, grapes, persimmons.
Local, seasonal fruits for
Harvest of the Month.

District buys local
Farms’ whole crops some months just for
Harvest of the Month.

Virtual farm field
Trip videos teach students
About the harvest.

For California
Thursdays: local, healthy food
And cooking from scratch.

With the goal to serve
Scratch-cooked, California meals
In schools every day.

Check the YumYummi
App to see school menus and
Nutrition info.

Diverse opinions
About school food make it hard
To please everyone.

But all can agree
That fruits and veggies boost kids’
Health, learning, and growth.

Students must take at
Least a half cup of fruits or
Veggies of their choice.

Day in and day out,
Cafeteria staff work
Hard, nourishing kids.

They’re men and women
Who tirelessly strive to
Feed students good food.

Staff ensure that students take
Their fruits and veggies.

But getting them to
Eat those fruits and veggies is
Another story.

Preventing food waste
Should start in classrooms, teaching
About food systems.

Café to Compost
Diverts salad bar scraps from
Trash to school gardens.

District gatherings
For garden coordinators
Connect school gardens.

Garden volunteers
Are superheroes who teach
Kids where food comes from.

Garden Clubs transform
Kids’ eating habits: “If they
Grow it, they eat it.”

School gardens yearn for
More district garden support
As grant funds run out.

But a tight budget
Limits what district can do;
Good things take money:

High quality food’s
Affordable when balanced
By cheaper products.

More scratch-cooking in
This large district requires new
Pricey equipment.

Revenue grows as
School meal participation
Rises. However…

…Healthy food clashes
At times with raising school meal

…Fewer students eat
School meals when healthy items
Replace their favorites.

Conundrums like these
Challenge school districts to fight
For healthy school food.

But these challenges
Cannot erase successes
Nor quell ambition.

Public and private
Grants are essential to fund
Projects and programs.

Much has been achieved
But FoodCorps’ vision is not
Yet complete here. Yet.

Farm to School champions
Throughout San Diego are
Never giving up.

Serving here is still
A dream come true, two months in.
Each day is thrilling.

It’s November 1st
Obstacles don’t trump passion
Small steps are huge wins.

py17-headshot-amy-garfinkelAbout the Author: Amy joined FoodCorps’ team of service members this year with the belief that knowledge about and access to good nutrition is the gateway to healthier people, healthier communities, and a healthier world. Her passion for food literacy in schools emerged during her time at UC Berkeley, where she studied the links between food, health, and poverty. She is excited to continue supporting San Diego Unified’s Farm to School Program, school gardens, and nutrition education this service term. Amy can be reached by emailing

district-logoSan Diego Unified School District – Food and Nutrition Services is committed to providing healthy school meals and snacks to the students of San Diego Unified in order to support student academic success and promote healthful eating habits that lead to lifelong positive nutrition practices. SDUSD provides more than 135,000 meals and snacks per day to students and staff throughout the district, and employs more than 1,400 team members. Learn more here.

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