Did you know that up to 50% of local 5th graders aren't proficient in science, according to state testing? Even more alarming, nearly 1 in 5 students have a health risk due based on body composition. School gardens represent a solution that is proven to change lives.
One Cool Earth is excited to announce the launch of our Earth Genius program at 13 elementary schools in the county this year. The program provides a weekly garden coordinator to teach science, nutrition, and environmental stewardship in the garden! Students participate in growing, harvesting, and tastings while completing hands-on science projects linked to Next Generation Science Standards. Two family cooking nights are hosted at each school site as a way to take healthy eating home. Six teacher trainings support increased garden involvement by schools. The program is funded through multiple grants, foundations, and individual donations as well as directly from schools that pay a partial fee for the service based on a sliding scale. One Cool Earth aims to bring thriving school garden programs to all 43 public elementary schools in the county by 2020, bringing together volunteers, funders, and schools to give every child a place to grow.
Volunteers can sign up to help (taste tests, planting, building projects, family cooking nights and MORE) at www.onecoolearth.org/volunteer
There are many ways to donate at http://www.onecoolearth.org/donate-now.html
Find out more about their work at www.onecoolearth.org.
Summer Social at Talley Farms
Andrea Chavez, director of Talley Farms' Fresh Harvest CSA, gave us a tour of their operation and shared their lettuce bounty with us to glean for the Food Bank.
The Farm to School Mixer held on November 15, 2016 attracted around 30+ people all interested in our local efforts to bring Farm to School stakeholders together. Participants included teachers, students, parents, food service workers, farmers, non-profit staff, and other community members.
Thank you to everyone who participated! Also, thanks to Delia Horwitz from Collaboration Soup, who helped organize the evening program, to the Wellness Kitchen, who provided food, to Fresh Hospital, who provided the meeting space, and to the Crushed Grape who provided the raffle basket.
The 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference took place in Washington DC from Feb 28 - March 1. Thousands of food bankers, food justice advocates, lobbyists, and legislators rallied to get additional support for the work they do. Representatives from non-profits, research groups, and federal and state government officials came together to learn about Advocacy, Access, Child Nutrition, and SNAP. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack shared his perspective on the importance of federal food support programs at a breakfast plenary. White House Domestic Policy Advisor Cecilia Munoz spoke of her experience researching hunger in America.
SLO FSC member Bryan Brown from CAPSLO attended and reported that the conference was "an excellent opportunity to network with others doing similar work, to learn what works and does not work, and to hear inspiring stories that bolster the energy to continue the fight to alleviate hunger." The event is presented by Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) and Feeding America and is held annually.
More detailed information:
2016 Federal Priorities to Fight Hunger in CA
Hunger Fact Sheet
Photo: Brooke ten Bosh (left) and Bryan Brown (right) represent CAPSLO at the Anti-Hunger Policy Conference in Washington DC. Photo Credit: Bryan Brown.
June 9th Advocacy Training
On June 9, the SLO FSC hosted an Advocacy Training in partnership with the Food Bank Coalition of SLO County. The training was a success with diverse speakers and 40 participants representing over 20 different organizations. Stephanie Teaford of STRIDE wrote a reflection about the training, stating:
"Advocacy seems like such a formal and intimidating word. The SLO County Food System Coalition Advocacy Training that took place yesterday helped me see that Advocacy is more about a story and relationships..."
Read Stephanie's full reflection on the HopeDance website.
Download resources from the training from our website.
Here's a word cloud showing the words that people used to sum up the training - a fun way to see what stood out for people!
Resilient Food Systems Conference
Thank you CAFES Center for Sustainability for organizing the Resilient Food Systems Conference on May 8 and 9! And thank you to everyone who visited our booth!
Advice to Preserve
Food preservation is as old as human civilization and even pre-dates agriculture. Food by its very nature begins to spoil the moment it is harvested. The primary objective of food preservation is to delay the spoilage of food to allow a wide variety of foods year round. Many of our most common methods of food preservation have been used since the beginning of history and similar techniques can be found across the globe. There are primarily seven major methods of food preservation. They include freezing, drying, canning, jams and jellies, pickling, fermenting, and curing. The quality of the preserved food varies greatly and is primarily dependent on the quality of the fresh food and preservation technique used. High quality preserved foods are free from microbial spoilage and toxins, are pleasing to eat, are eye appealing and are reasonably nutritious.
For more than 30 years, the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Food Preserver (MFP) Program has extended research-based home food preservation information to California residents. The first UCCE MFP Program started in 1982 and since these humble beginnings, programs are now thriving in 16 counties across the state of California.
In January 2015, the San Luis Obispo County UCCE office rolled out its newly formed MFP program. The MFP program is made up of volunteers who received extensive training in food safety and food preservation from UCCE faculty. After passing a qualifying exam, these certified volunteers work as a team with UCCE professionals to teach safe food preservation techniques to the community. The MFP program offers monthly classes on a variety of food preservation techniques. The classes are held on the fourth Saturday of the month from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. To access a list of upcoming classes and to register, please visit their website. Some classes are free and others have a small charge to help cover the cost of the class materials. In addition, the MFP program offers a Food Preservation Helpline every Wednesday from 1:00 to 3:00 PM, so if an individual has a food safety or preservation question, they can call 805-781-1429 and speak to a certified MFP volunteer. Furthermore, when practicing home food preservation, it is important to follow the instructions and use only credible research-based sources to ensure a safe product. Click on the link below to access University of California Cooperative Extension’s website for recommended research-based home food preservation methods and recipes.
Christine Nelson, UCCE Health Education Specialist
Linda McClure, Master Food Preserver
The California Food Policy Council (CA FPC) had its first meeting of 2015 in Sacramento on February 9th and 10th. San Luis Obispo County Food System Coalition (SLO FSC) has been a member of CA FPC for several years. As more food policy councils are being started across the state, the statewide body grows larger every year- there are now over 20 ratified members! This meeting was attended by 50 CAFPC members, local and state health department staff and community partners from as far north as Crescent City, and as far south as San Diego. Adria Arko, Kylie Hensley, and Nicki Anderson from the SLO FSC (pictured) attended the two day meeting.
This was an jam packed meeting with lots of discussion and activities. Some of the outcomes of the meeting were to approve updated CA FPC Operating Guidelines (SLO FSC abstained) and to support the Nutrition Incentives Bill (SLO FSC voted in favor of this). Kylie, Nicki and Adria also met with staffers of Asm. Katcho Achadjian, and Sen. Bill Monning to discuss the California Legislative Report Card and the Nutrition Incentives Bill.
One of the highlights of the event was the screening of Food Chains, hosted by the CA FPC and Asm.Roger Hernandez, which focus is farm workers in the United States. The film was followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker Smriti Keshari, Gail Wadsworth, Executive Director, California Institute for Rural Studies, Dr. Benjamin Flores MPH, Board Chair, California Primary Care Association, Eriberto Fernandez, Regional Coordinator Northern San Joaquin Valley, United Farm Workers and Jim Araby, Executive Director, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council.
Since August 2014, GleanSLO harvested nearly 97,000 lbs. of produce from local farms and gardens! Although that is an amazing amount of produce that they are able to redirect to the Food Bank, they have noticed that there is not as much available produce to glean as before. GleanSLO regularly speaks to farmers in our area, and believes that this decline is due to the drought, as well as more efficient farming methods, which reduces waste. Drought has driven produce prices up, which in turn is making farmers less likely to have excess donatable product. GleanSLO has been working hard not only in the fields, but also to connect more to the farming community in our county. They have recently been highlighted in several media outlets, such as the Farm Bureau of SLO County magazine and the New Times. In addition to promoting their services, they are trying to understand the barriers that farmers encounter when trying to donate their produce. To better understand the farmers' perspective, they are going to be hosting a farmer roundtable with the Farm Bureau.
The SLO County Food System Coalition, or FSC, is a collaborative network that brings together many sectors to strengthen the local food system.