Food For Thought

Eating healthy in schools a top priority.


Get Healthy San Mateo and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers are seeking good ideas to maintain good nutrition in schools and the two organizations are willing to pay for them.

CAFF will be awarding up to $2,000 in grant money to an individual, school or district that produces the best idea for its "Farm to School Challenge."

"We want to connect the kids to who grows their food," CAFF's Sadie Clements said Tuesday during a Farm to School Workshop at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation."We want to help do more with school."

The workshop dealt with ways to implement ideas that lead to agricultural and nutrituion education in the classroom.

San Mateo resident Anna Lague, in charge of the kitchens in the Redwood City Elementary School District, has been successful with Harvest of the Month, a program designed to bring locally grown food to the schools.

A recent tasting test was of cole slaw, flavored with lime juice instead of mayonneise. Several of the third and fourth graders in the district were afraid to test it.

"If they did taste it, they like it," Lague said. "Most of the kids took it seriously and in the end they thought it was good."

The School Farm Project in Half Moon Bay has also proven a success. There's a portion of land donated to school districts with lower income students. They participate in planting a crop and harvesting it.

The message is clear. The San Mateo County Health Department, through Get Healthy, is committed to promoting a sustainable food system. Education, both inside the classroom and outside on field trips, becomes key to achieving school wellness.

Menlo-Atherton High grad Emma Sharer was drawn to food policy after a transformative trip to a small town in Mexico, where she developed her thesis in Culinary Tourism.

"I worked with the local community in a small village and introduced them to an eco hotel," Sharer said. "They didn't even know it was there. I connected them through food."

Sharer majored in Anthropology, with a minor in Spanish.

"I teach Yoga to keep myself sane," she said. "My current career path led me here, to try and see what works and what we can do. I want to change food policy."

Sharer, who graduated from Colorado College, was on her first day of the internship.

The San Mateo County Food System Alliance has proposed "A Garden in Every School," and has helped 52 percent of all public schools and 48 percent of all private schools in the county develop a garden.

An interactive map is located on the Alliance website.

Food workers all want to make things better in the schools but "they don't have time or the tools," said Lague.

That's where Get Healthy and CAFF come in.

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