Stuffed and Happy: Food Day 2015

Before the really big Food Day is upon us, I’d like to share some glimpses of Food Day 2015 at Julian Elementary and Julian Junior High.  It was a minimum day, and we had 15 workshops between the two campuses.  Students went to 5-6 of them for thirty minutes each.

In the weeks before the event, I began making this “eat a rainbow” collage with after school students, using photos from seed catalogues:

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It turned out really cool:

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It was too wet and windy to hang it in front of the school as planned (along with two huge banners that read “Eat a Rainbow Every Day!”) so it became a nice backdrop for a storybook and craft session on the importance of eating foods of all different colors for a healthy diet.

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The UC Farm Smart joined us for the third year running, and as usual, they delivered a visual, hands-on, super engaging lesson.  This year’s topic: carrots.

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Students used orange dots to conduct a poll after a taste test: fresh carrots, canned carrots or no carrots at all.

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Another wildly popular instructor, Chef Greg from Healthy Adventures Foundation taught kids how to make vegetarian sushi.

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A superteam of teachers, present and former (Lark, Nancy, Kathy, Shirley) presented lessons on “eating a rainbow.”  A mini-lesson on the health benefits of each color was followed by fruit and veggie bingo and fruit kabobs—kids that ate all the colors left with a little rainbow sticker on their shirts.

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Food Day would not be Food Day without Teak and Harvey representing for the Julian Apple Growers with apple pressing for juice and apple slice taste tests.

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The amazing folks from Camp Stevens led a composting workshop, demonstrating their teaching flexibility by switching from the garden to the cafeteria when it started to pour, hauling in mounds of unsifted compost and wheelbarrows.

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Mrs. Croman, our music teacher, leading “food songs.”

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Not pictured: Ann from the Resource Conservation District teaching a lesson about monarch butterflies and the importance of protecting pollinators.

Meanwhile down at the junior high:

From the mind of our ag specialist, Mr. Martineau:  Students walk through eight stations, tracing all of the parts of a pizza to their origins and making little pizzas as they go.  Each station had information, questions and a short video about the bread, sausage, tomato sauce, etc.

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Presenting the Duffy Cooking Show!  How cool is it that kids were making homemade granola bars with their principal and superintendent?

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Mrs. Hill and Mrs. Tellez pulled off an amazing workshop on cheese: a history of cheese, cheesemaking, cheese tasting/rating and looking at yogurt under the microscope.

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Every student did an art project with Sun Dog Studios.  See last post.

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Students had a chance to talk to Joel and Chef Jeremy, who plan and cook their school lunch.  Joel and Jeremy talked to the kids about the mechanics and nutrition involved in planning a NSLP-approved lunch, and students provided them with feedback about the menu.

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Not pictured:  Students watched 5 short videos from the very cool video series How does it grow?

All that, and we fit in an apple crunch on both campuses!  Later that day, afterschool students toured Mom’s Pies and each made an apple dumpling….

Thanks to all who contributed to this truly awesome day of learning!  See you next year.

Now for a nap.

 

 

 

 

Food Day Nibbles, part 2

To celebrate National Food Day at the end of October, our elementary and junior high schools presented 14 workshops about agriculture, nutrition and cooking to which students rotated all day. Here’s a taste of all of the hands-on learning that happened.

Resource Conservation District of San Diego joined us for the first time to teach kids to make pots out of newspaper and plant herb seeds for windowsill gardens.

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Julian schools alumna Jill talked about growing up in Julian, going to UC Santa Cruz and starting her own farm, Mountain Chickadee Farm .

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Chef Greg from Healthy Adventures Foundation taught another wonderful cooking class.

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Camp Stevens headed up a workshop on making fresh smoothies.  Very hands on with the kid-safe knives!

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Mr. Martineau led a fun and educational workshop on the use of animal byproducts in everyday products, having students guess ingredients.  Also included: how many bug parts in different foods—perfect for junior high!

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UC Regent’s Farm Smart program once again joined us and presented another excellent hands-on workshop on corn.

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Chef Jeremy from Jeremy’s on the Hill (and Jeremy’s on the Campus, our school lunch program) led a workshop at the junior high, talking about his restaurant and getting feedback from kids about school lunch

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Mrs. Croman taught a special music class with food songs!

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Kids pressed their own apple juice from local fruit, with help from the Julian Apple Growers Association.

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The amazing Mrs. Cantor taught the kids to make sweet and savory crepes.  Later in the day volunteers delivered extras to all of the volunteers and staff.  Final count:  280 dinner plate sized crepes.

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Local family and farm Cook Pigs joined us, talking about their sustainable operation and letting kids interact with their dog and piglet Chewbaca.

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Juicing seminars, with the bicycle blender out for a spin! Image 14 Image 8 Image 11

All students returned to their classrooms to write about the day in their garden journals.

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Not pictured:  Mr. Pierce showed and discussed food films from the Nourish series, Mr. Duffy taught a food safety class as he and Mr. Lay made chicken-veggies kebabs on the garden’s BBQ, and Miss Carmen led a class on “eating real.”

We also extended Food Day into our after-school program with more cooking classes and a fieldtrip to a local restaurant.  I played a memory game with kitchen utensils and followed with a taste test of guavas, papayas, dates, fresh figs, etc.

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If you were involved in any way, thank you!!!  Will you come again next year? 🙂

Farmers are outstanding in their field, being photographed

Kids with Cameras, our afterschool photography class, is off and running again (I’ve written about it hereherehere and here if you’d like to know more.)  This semester we’re focusing on food, so we took kids to “Down the Road” Farm–one of the places sourcing Jeremy’s on the Campus with fruit and vegetables.  Farmer Josh, Farmer Bob and even Chef Jeremy were on hand to be photographed.  The idea is that we will enlarge some of the day’s best shots and use them in the cafeteria to help students make a connection between their food and the people/farms that grow it.

The farm is set at the base of Volcan Mountain–a stunning site.

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A student chats with Chef Jeremy.

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The greenhouse provided nice, diffuse light on an otherwise very bright afternoon.

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We found that the kids were a bit shy about approaching the farmer/chefs so one of the instructors set them up in stations, so kids went down the line, interacting with them while shooting–a bit more directed approach.  Here Eva talks with Chef Jeremy by the amaranth.

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Chef Jeremy by the amaranth.

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Farmer Josh had a surprise: extra 2 inch models.

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Photo courtesy of Anne Garcia

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A van full of happy children loaded down with flowering root vegetables!

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Coming soon: what the children photographed that day.  I’ll leave you with something that caught my eye!  Ah autumn!

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From the “hill” to the “campus”

For many years, the school lunch program has been serviced by a food service company headquartered out of the Midwest.  Weekly, frozen entrées were trucked in from somewhere in southern California, stored and then “heated and served.”  It worked for many reasons: the price, the pre-packaged portions, and the availability of this company to deliver to our remote mountain town.  The quality of the food?  Well, it was frozen, fairly processed and far from local.  As part of our USDA Farm to School grant, Susi and I began to research other possibilities.

And a possibility began to emerge—so big and so wonderful—it was hard to believe it might actually happen.  But it did, thanks to many meetings, the support of our administration and the work of our nutrition program director.  Our school lunch program at our public elementary, junior high and high school, is now (as of two weeks ago) catered exclusively by a local Farm to Table restaurant, Jeremy’s on the Hill.  Allow me to list the many levels of wonderfulness:

-Jeremy’s on the Hill is run by chef Jeremy Manly who attended Julian schools, went away to culinary school and came back home to establish a restaurant with his family.

-Jeremy’s on the Hill is a Farm to Table restaurant, sourcing as much local food as possible.

-Jeremy’s has a reputation for being one of the best places to eat in our town, and now the kids at our school get the benefit of their good food every day.

-Through this new contract, we were able to invest our school lunch program money into our own town, and it has created jobs.

-No longer frozen, all meals are cooked each morning and driven a few miles down the road.

-I was at the high school when the new program rolled out.  The cafeteria smelled wonderful, I heard a kid exclaim about the “real food,” and many of the staff even bought lunch—perhaps for the first time.  A mom wrote to me saying how thrilled she is that her son is taking advantage of the local, fresh salad bar.  I’ve heard reports of kids trying new things—like the heirloom tomatoes last week–and being won over.  One kid said the “Baja Bowl” with brown rice, cabbage, tomatoes, olives and fish didn’t look appetizing, but it was the best things he’s eaten in a long time.  Sure, there a kinks to iron out as with any overhaul of any major program, but things are off to a great start thanks to the vision of our administration, the flexibility and commitment of our nutrition staff and Jeremy’s dedication to making sure that the school meal that many kids have—and many kids depend on—is the kind that will prepare their minds and bodies for learning.  So celebrate with me:

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