Nourishing California’s Children

by Penelope Oliver | November 12, 2023 | 0 Comments
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A student interview with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, First Partner of California

The California Farm to School grant program connects schools with local farmers and food producers to provide fresh, delicious school meals. The program is part of a broader movement to promote more nutritious eating habits while supporting local agriculture and mitigating climate impacts.

Penelope Oliver

Penelope Oliver

One prominent advocate and leader in the Farm to School movement is Jennifer Siebel Newsom, California’s First Partner. She has been a vocal champion for the health and well-being of children through her California for ALL Kids initiative, through which she started California Farm to School in partnership with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. (Siebel Newsom is married to California Governor Gavin Newsom.)

The roots of Farm to Table efforts can be traced at least to 1916, when the US Department of Agriculture began experimenting with new ways to distribute fresh food in partnership with the US Postal Service. Over time, steady progress in food production, storage, and transport technologies have made it increasingly practical to distribute fresh food from farm to table at scale. That progress can include school meals.

I visited First Partner Siebel Newsom in Sacramento to learn more about the Farm to School program and how students can get involved in making it happen in their own schools.

Farm to School in your school

The 2023 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program will distribute approximately $60 million to build momentum, accelerating progress begun with earlier grants in 2021 and 2022. To ensure you are in the loop when the grant application opens, sign up for the Farm To School Newsletter.

Many school leaders aren’t aware of this program. Consider advocating for your school district to apply for funds by writing to your district superintendent, making public comments, requesting meetings, and encouraging student and parent leaders to join efforts. You can also look up your school district’s representatives here to share this program with them.

Want to get involved? Here’s a sample message you can copy, paste, and personalize:

Penelope Oliver (She/Her/Hers) is a teen from Sacramento, California who has served as an Ed100 Outreach Ambassador and as a policy intern. Her main passions are activism, racial and gender equality, climate justice, immigration, and educational equity. She can often be found writing poetry, volunteering, or educating others about civic engagement. Follow her on Instagram at @penelopethepowerfulpoet.

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