By: Monique Bienvenue; California Ag Today Social Media Manager/Reporter
Today, five students from Willow Cove Elementary School will join First Lady Michelle Obama to harvest vegetables from the White House Garden and work with chefs to turn them into a healthy meal.
Willow Cove Elementary School is part of the Pittsburg Unified School District in Contra Costa County. The students are attending the event in recognition of the Farm to School programs the district has implemented. The district now has eight school gardens, incorporates local produce in school cafeterias, and provides nutrition education in the classroom as well as after-school programs.
The school’s garden began last year, when second-grade teacher Elba Ramirez requested milk crates to start a small classroom garden. Instead, district child nutrition director Matthew Belasco offered to build a larger garden with raised beds.
Ms. Ramirez and her students planted and cared for the garden throughout the year and then harvested the vegetables, which were served in the cafeteria.
CDFA’s Office of Farm to Fork has been working closely with Pittsburg Unified’s Food Service Department to develop these programs and incorporate more locally grown food in district cafeterias. The office is also working with Pittsburg and surrounding school districts to directly connect them with nearby farmers to provide local food.
“I am so pleased that the White House has recognized the Pittsburg Unified School District for all the hard work it has put into its amazing farm to school program,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “It helps connect our students with food grown right here in California and, to the extent possible, from Contra Costa and surrounding counties. CDFA and its Office of Farm to Fork is committed to these types of programs. They teach our kids about where their food comes from while giving them access to healthy foods, and they support California farmers and ranchers.”