Written by: Brianna Egan, FoodCorps Service Member with Pajaro Valley Unified School District
Students from the Jóvenes SANOS youth group voiced their perspectives on the lunchrooms at Watsonville High and E.A. Hall Middle School as part of a design-thinking activity I facilitated with them. The current cafeterias are “old school” and “institutionalized”. They’d love to see more Mexican food, a salad bar, and even a fresh juice bar.
The fall season brings with it a time of reflection—a time to gather the final harvests of summer and to lay down plans, like cover crops, for the coming year. This fall, in my second month of service through FoodCorps at Pajaro Valley Unified School District, I am reflecting on my whirlwind introduction to school food and laying down plans on how I will work to connect kids with healthy food this year.
Every morning on my commute to the school district’s offices in Watsonville, California I pass by acres and acres of farmland. I turn my head to make out the fruits on the rows and I see farmworkers, bent over, tending to the fields. Raspberries, strawberries, lettuce greens, hoodies, denim…they blur into shades of deep green and dust brown. I cannot wrest away the thought that the growing of our food is intimately connected to people, to families, and to communities.
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: 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
Written by: Hayley Baumgartner, FoodCorps Service Member with Center for Healthy Communities
“Hey!, Hey!!, HEEEYYYY!!! What do you guys have today??” a pair of fourth grade girls call to me through the chain link fence as I am setting up a farm stand booth in the hot valley sun. “We have strawberries today,” I call back and they squeal “YESSSS!” in excitement as they jump up and down. “We brought money today” they tell me enthusiastically. Continue reading
Written by: Aislíng Mitchell, FoodCorps Service Member with Oakland Unified School District
I’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