By Rebecca Wasik
School may be out of session, but the Vacaville Unified School District’s Student Nutrition Department still wants to be sure that all children are able to have satisfying meals that give them the energy they need to have a memorable summer.
Now through Aug. 15, children ages up to 18 can receive free breakfast and lunch from VUSD’s Summer Community Meals program. Children do not have to be enrolled in a district school in order to receive a meal. Breakfast and lunch are served free of charge every weekday, except on the Fourth of July.
Source: VUSD Student Nutrition Department’s Summer Community Meals Program feeds youth, free of charge – The Vacaville Reporter
Nico James-Singh and Jalia Her share a vision for their futures.
Each wants to make films – or a similar vocation – as their life’s work. They even teamed up to take second place in a recent video contest, which was good enough to move them onto the state competition.
They are members of the Multimedia Academy at Armijo High, with Her, a senior, serving as president. They also find themselves among 22 of their club mates and six other Armijo students in the first-year, after-school Healthy Food Program.
Source: Healthy Food curriculum takes Armijo students from garden to kitchen to video room
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond today joined U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack, California First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) leadership, and state and federal stakeholders on a visit to Betty Reid Soskin Middle School to hear more about the district’s innovative farm-to-school program.
Soskin Middle School serves 450 students—60 percent of whom are considered to be socioeconomically disadvantaged—and is the frontline of the vital work of feeding students healthy school meals through the California Universal Meals Program. The school is named after Betty Reid Soskin, a pioneering Bay Area civil rights activist and the nation’s oldest National Park Ranger, who was designated as an Ambassador to California Education by Thurmond in September 2021.
“As we celebrate National Nutrition Month and National School Breakfast Week, I take great pride in promoting the fact that California became the first state in the United States to implement a statewide universal meals program for all school-age children within the public education system. As a result, millions of children access two free healthy meals during each school day. And not only that, but we have also supported other states in following suit,” Superintendent Thurmond said. “The Universal Meals Program removes the stigma associated with free and reduced-price school meals and is a critical component in the framework for the Transforming California Schools Initiative designed to create one cohesive educational system with integrated, interdependent strategies.”
Source: Efforts to Support Student Access to Healthy Meals – Year 2023 (CA Dept of Education)
The California Department of Education (CDE) Nutrition Services Division is sending this message to announce the availability of School Year 2023–24 School Breakfast Program (SBP) and Summer Meal Programs (SMP) Start-up and Expansion Grants.
The state Legislature appropriates approximately $1.017 million in the annual state budget for SBP and SMP Start-up and Expansion Grants. California Education Code Section 49550.3, authorizes the CDE to award competitive grants of up to $15,000 per school site for nonrecurring expenses incurred when initiating or expanding an SBP or SMP.
Source: 2023–24 School Breakfast Grants Are Now Available! – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
Commencing in school year 2022–23, CA Education Code (EC) Section 49501.5 required public school districts, county offices of education (COE), and charter schools serving students in kindergarten through grade 12 to provide a breakfast and lunch, free of charge, during each school day, regardless of a student’s eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. This is known as the state meal mandate and universal meals. The state meal mandate also applies to public school students in certified nonpublic schools (NPS). This is because the public school students attending the NPS remain under the jurisdiction of the public school district or COE, per EC Section 56365.
Eligible Local Educational Agencies (LEA), specifically public schools, COEs, and charters schools, can be eligible for state reimbursement for meals served to public school students attending an NPS. The NPS must be listed as a site under the sponsorship of the eligible LEA and be a participant in both the school breakfast and national school lunch programs. Please note that the NPS sites are not eligible for state reimbursement for meals served to nonpublic school students, and NPS sponsors are not eligible for state meal reimbursement.
Source: State Reimbursement for Nonpublic School Sites – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
By Susan Hiland
New law requires local food purchases starting in January 2024
Trustees in the Fairfield-Suisun School District heard a presentation Thursday about finances for the child nutrition programs – a presentation that looked ahead to how a new state law may change where and how the district purchases food.
The district’s nutritional programs include a Seamless Summer Feeding Program, and Community Eligibility Provision School Nutrition Programs which includes At-Risk After School Supper Program.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun school board reviews school nutrition programs
By Thomas Gase
It’s not hard to imagine: The person who finally cures cancer could be from Vallejo.
Or the person who rehabilitates you through a tough injury or conducts a successful surgery on your friend could be from Vallejo.
Now, more than ever, people are being sought for positions in the field of health care. On Tuesday and Wednesday representatives and workers from Kaiser Permanente partnered with schools in the Bay Area for Youth Career Day 2022 to let students know that job opportunities in the health care industry are there for them if they choose to pursue them.
Source: Vallejo students learn about healthy career choices – Times-Herald
On May 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved nine state specific waivers to provide flexibilities to California program operations during School Year (SY) 2022–23. Section 12(l) of the National School Lunch Act provides the authority to the USDA to issue these waivers.
While the goal of the Child Nutrition Programs for SY 2022–23 is to transition to traditional meal, snack, and milk service, the USDA recognizes that there may continue to be COVID-19 related impacts.
The waivers listed below provide flexibilities for occasions when Child Nutrition Program operations are experiencing COVID-related impacts in the following programs: the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Special Milk Program (SMP), and Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), NSLP Seamless Summer Feeding Option (SSO), and the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP).
Source: Waivers Affecting School Year 2022–23 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
The California Department of Education Nutrition Services Division commends schools across the state for providing excellent service and continuous access to school meals and snacks. Since the beginning of this pandemic, school food service professionals, school leaders, and staff have been on the frontlines providing nutritious meals that support not only students, but families and communities as well. We continue to feel immense gratitude and admiration for your dedication and resilience.
March is National Nutrition Month® (NNM®). This month is an outstanding time to celebrate and recognize both the importance of nutritious foods and the role that food service staff play in supporting student health, learning, and school meals (on or off-campus).
This year’s theme is Celebrate a World of Flavors. Understanding the multiplicity of cultures and celebrating flavors from around the world helps us to recognize and appreciate our diversity. The theme encourages us to be curious, enjoy our differences, and expand our palettes. In our school communities, we bring together many different backgrounds, cultural food habits, and taste preferences. During the month of March, I encourage you to Celebrate a World of Flavors, as well as the students, families and staff that enrich our collective experiences by sharing their food cultures with us.
Source: National Nutrition Month—March 2022 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
By Richard Bammer
Suisun Valley K-8 School teacher Heather Merodio cut pieces of a broccoli flower, handing the knubby, green segments to her fifth-grade agri-science students, some 20 in all, seated on the edges of a rectangular wooden grow box inside the campus’ garden in rural Fairfield.
“It tastes raw,” student Myah Rodriguez told a visitor to the Lambert Road school on Friday.
“It tastes earthy,” classmate Jade Adams chimed in, with another classmate, Emmalyn Pearson, seated next to her, adding, “I think it’s fresh.”
Source: Where ‘farm-to-fork’ lessons are on the teaching menu – The Vacaville Reporter
By Nicole Langarica
The beginning of any school year can be a time of significant adjustment for students. Balancing club and sports schedules, building homecoming floats, and making sure the final touches of classroom assignments are completed before progress reports are examples of students’ daily tasks. One could easily argue that the first few months of a new school year are packed with plenty of activities to keep high school students busy. For some Armijo High School IB students, however, it is just the beginning.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) Program, hosted at Armijo High School, is a highly regarded internationally-minded program that promotes rigorous inquiry, critical thinking, and a strong sense of social justice and cultural awareness. Those wishing to enroll in the IB Program are required to complete an application, submit to placement tests, and abide by the program’s high expectations. Once enrolled in the program, students must maintain a grade point average of 2.75 or higher each semester while participating in sequential and rigorous coursework.
Source: Armijo Royals Volunteer and Help Local Food Bank Feed the Need
The Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District has appointed Monica Gonzalez as its child nutrition manager.
Gonzalez’s six years of experience with FSUSD’s Child Nutrition Department with growing responsibilities underscores her commitment to serving the students in the District, officials said in a press statement.
Gonzalez grew up in Fairfield. Her entire educational career took place in the district. She has been employed with FSUSD since 2015 and most recently served as a Bilingual Secretary III in the Child Nutrition Department.
Source: Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District appoints child nutrition manager – The Vacaville Reporter
By Kris Corey
Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District is teaming up with the Workforce Development Board and Solano Small Business Development to provide hot meals prepared by local restaurants to families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Restaurant Resiliency Program, created by Wells Fargo, will fund hot and nutritious meals from Fairfield and Vallejo restaurants for families and individuals experiencing homelessness or financial hardship. The FSUSD Anna Kyle Elementary Family Resource Center will oversee the distribution of meals.
Source: Press Release: Restaurant Resiliency Program Meal Distributions at FSUSD Family Resource Center
Solano County Public Health is distributing free lunches beginning Tuesday to children under 18 as part of the 2021 Summer Meal Program.
The program was established to ensure that children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. No applications are required. To find out more, text the word “Food” to 877-877.
Breakfast for the next day will also be given from 11 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, through July 29. No lunches will be available July 5. Solano Public Health is distributing from 2101 Courage Drive in Fairfield.
Source: Solano Public Health offers summer meals to youth
By Nick Sestanovich
The farm-to-fork movement, which promotes the serving of ingredients often sourced directly from or other food producer at restaurants or school cafeterias, has continued to make gains in recent years. More eateries have adopted farm-to-fork approaches, and even Dixon High School could be offering courses for its students.
At least that’s what Principal Stephanie Marquez and Miranda Will, a career technical education teacher on special assignment are proposing. They will be presenting their proposal at Thursday’s school board meeting.
The farm-to-fork courses would serve as a replacement to the school’s current culinary program, which is currently offered trough the Family Consumer Science Department. The present program has two courses, the first of which teaches students the basics of food and preparing meals and the second of which teaches students to preserve and market foods and even open “businesses” to sell their items to students and teachers, per the DHS 2019-20 school catalog.
Source: Dixon High to present farm-to-fork proposal to school board – The Reporter
By Richard Bammer
Amid winter blues and the ongoing pandemic, Fairfield-Suisun Unified leaders have partnered with two area businesses to make sure students get some additional fresh, locally sourced food and, in the process, improved nutrition and health.
In December, the district’s Child Nutrition Department added Woodland-based Micaela’s California Fresh, which supplies authentic, freshly made tortillas and salsa for use in weekly food boxes students receive, Director of Child Nutrition Dan Mitchell said in a press release issued Thursday.
The tortillas and salsas are made fresh daily using locally sourced ingredients and no chemical preservatives, he noted in the statement, adding that the salsa has been popular with district families and will be included regularly on menus.
Source: In FSUSD, some new fresh food added to the winter menu – The Reporter
By Nick Sestanovich
They are angels with bags of food for area elementary students who may be food-insecure during weekends when local schools are not offering or distributing free lunches and breakfasts.
As co-director of the Vacaville chapter of End 68 Hours of Hunger — a reference to the weekend time period that gives the group its name — Tinamarie DeStefano of Vacaville said the mission is to give away food to eat, Friday night to Sunday night, to young students in four Solano County school districts, making a difference at more than a dozen schools in all.
The food — nonperishable pantry foods, peanut butter and jelly, granola bars, fruit cups and the like — helps the students, many of whom are from poor families or at-risk, “to focus,” improve test scores, and lessen behavioral problems, such as Attention Deficit Disorder, DeStefano said.
Source: Angels with food bags for area school kids – The Reporter
By Jennifer Crain
By the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the student nutrition department of Vacaville Unified School District had transitioned two of its heat-and-serve kitchens into scratch-cooking hubs, the better to serve its 13,000 students. They had also forged relationships with local farms and started making progress on nutrition goals, such as limiting sugars.
While many school districts experienced setbacks to similar programs when the pandemic closed schools, Juan Cordon, director of student nutrition, says he felt driven to continue delivering scratch meals to students.
Source: California school district improves scratch-cooking program
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued nationwide federal waivers and approved state specific requests intended to provide temporary flexibilities to certain regulatory requirements of the Child Nutrition Programs (CNP). The CNPs referenced are the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), Seamless Summer Option (SSO), School Food Service Program (SFSP), and the Child and Adult Food Program (CACFP). The California Department of Education (CDE) is assisting Program Operators of the CNP by posting policy guidance and waivers, providing information on how to operate the programs during the pandemic, directions on how to claim for reimbursement and COVID-19 funding, providing bi-monthly Townhall webinars for questions and answers and best practices, connecting program operators with resources, answering Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ), and providing contact information for additional assistance. The CDE is striving to continue to support and protect access to nutritious meals for children and adults in California.
Source: COVID-19 Guidance in the Child Nutrition Programs – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)
The California Department of Education (CDE) has opened the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) Annual Update in the Child Nutrition Information and Payment System (CNIPS) for School Year (SY) 2020–21 (October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021).
Prior to serving meals the Nutrition Services Division must approve your CNIPS SY 2020–21 Application Packet. If you are planning to serve SFSP meals on October 1, 2020, please submit your complete Application Packet as soon as possible to ensure a smooth transition to the new year.
Source: SFSP Annual Update 2020–21 – Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)