College Wins Farm-to-School Grant
Occidental College’s Center for Food and Justice has been awarded a $189,240 grant from The California Endowment to help increase fruit and vegetable consumption among students at Jefferson Elementary School in the Riverside Unified School District.
The two-year effort, called the Farm to School Demonstration Project, will implement a farm fresh salad bar, convene a nutrition advisory council made up of students, parents, teachers, and Occidental staff, and conduct a variety of nutrition education activities, including field trips to farms and in-class nutrition lessons. The project aims to increase fruit and vegetable consumption by a serving a day for at least half of Jefferson’s students. Local farms will provide fresh produce for the salad bar.
In Riverside County, 50.3 percent of students qualify for free and reduced price lunch through the National School Lunch Program. “Children of low income families are more likely to be overweight and less likely to have ready access to health promoting foods, such as fruits and vegetables,” said Center for Food and Justice Director Margaret Haase. “Obesity and associated health disorders threaten the health of the American population.”
The pilot program will serve as a demonstration site for other schools and districts in the region seeking to improve student nutrition. A regional workshop, tours, and other forms of outreach will be designed to encourage other low-income schools in the Inland Empire to initiate similar programs.
Over the past seven years, the Center for Food and Justice has been a national leader in the farm-to-school movement. In 1997, the center was instrumental in launching a farmers’ market fruit and salad bar in the Santa Monica-Malibu School District – a program now found in every school in the district. A UCLA study found that low-income students who participated in salad bar programs increased their daily intake of fruits and vegetables by more than 40 percent. The center is now working to implement the program in the Los Angeles Unified School District.