Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We had a BLAST at the Radical Food Jam!!

This past Friday our Associate Director, Alex, and three FoodWhat Alumni, Jazz, Max and Damian, spent the evening at the MAH, Santa Cruz Museum of Arts and History, for a third Fridays event called  the "Radical Food Jam". This event was designed to engage Santa Cruz'ans with local food artisans, community gardens, and other food-focused groups in an effort to show the colors and diversity of the Santa Cruz food culture.

The FoodWhat crew spent their time at the "Jam" teaching children how to pot lettuce starts, explaining the meaning of a food system through the Real Food Wheel, and exploring concepts around access and equity through the Food Justice Wall. Damian manned the lettuce starts area where he taught kids how to scoop just the right amount of soil into their pots, top it, tamp it, and water it. He explained that in a month, they would have a delicious salad to harvest! Jazz covered the Real Food Wheel and the FoodWhat information station where she spoke candidly about the organization and her participation in the programs. Max managed the Food Justice Wall where he told the story of food in West Oakland and Santa Cruz and asked community members to weigh in on the the clear inequality and lack of equal distribution of resources.

We were able to give the community a clear picture of what FoodWhat is all about -- but it wasn't all seriousness and workshops! The crew took full advantage of the event offerings from Penny Ice Creamery cones to the Radical Baker's gluten-free muffins -- and Max even participated in the kale eating contest!

Here is what Wallace Baines at the Santa Cruz Sentinel had to say about the event:

"..The Radical Food Jam isn't all about play. It will also examine issues surrounding food, nutrition and the food system. The Santa Cruz Community Farmers Markets, for instance, is getting into the act by bringing in a real tree branch and asking visitor to decorate it with paper leaves and fruit, on which will be written memories, thoughts and ideas associated with food.

"It's designed to be a thoughtful activity to get people to reach back and think why is food important to me?" said Nicole Zahm of the SCCFM, which runs the farmers markets in downtown, Felton, West Side, Live Oak and Scotts Valley. "People come to a place of thinking about food in a larger context besides just 'what am I going to eat today?'"

Doron Comerchero, the director of the local organization Food, What?! said his organization will also take part in Radical Food Jam with displays that get people thinking about issues of food justice and what people who work in the farming and food industry face in the workplace and in their standards of living.

Food, What?! will install the Food Justice Wall comparing two real workers in contrasting situations when it comes to labor conditions. It will also compare Santa Cruz to Oakland in terms of access to affordable and nutritious food.

"It paints a picture of what kind of access we have in this community, as opposed to other communities," said Comerchero".

Huge THANK YOU to the MAH for inviting us to participate! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Food, What?!" Summer Program 2013

This week kicked off this year's Food, What?! Summer program! We hired 25 rad youth from the Spring Internship Program to spend eight weeks this summer busting it in the fields, gaining empowerment through food justice workshops, planning events, making delicious food, and earning a paycheck every two weeks!

On Tuesdays we harvest vegetables for our CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes to take home to our families every week.
Every Wednesday we roll out to local schools to help with gardening and maintenance projects.
We meet at the Homeless Garden Project Farm on Thursdays to share our hard work with their crew.
On Fridays we head out to Live Earth Farm in Watsonville to lend a hand in their fields.


Learn more about the Food, What?! Crew and Summer Program by checking out our weekly blog posts in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Congratulations to Gaelen and Esther!!

We are thrilled to announce that 2012 FoodWhat Alumni Gaelen Abbas and Esther Stillwell have taken first and second prize (respectively) in the Green Ways to School "Bike to the Future" writing contest!!

Gaelen won first place and a prize of $100 for his short story titled, "The Tale of the Tree and Perhaps Other More Important Things" -- read his story HERE.

Esther won second prize for her poem titled "Memories of a Tandem" -- read her story HERE.

We are so proud of both of them and stoked that FoodWhat youth continue to emerge as leaders in the community!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

HUGE THANKS to New Leaf Community Markets for their support!

This morning Scott Roseman of New Leaf Community Markets presented FoodWhat with a check for $5,521 to fund youth salaries for the FoodWhat Fall Program!

“FoodWhat is very excited to partner with New Leaf to deliver our Fall Program this year. New Leaf's mission to nourish and sustain our community is complementary to FoodWhat’s work with local low-income teens where we inspire personal transformation by helping teens to find their voices and develop self-confidence,” said Doron Comerchero, Director, FoodWhat.  Youth participating in FoodWhat experience profound changes in their diet, sense of self, professionalism, leadership skills, and drive.

The New Leaf donation will support the employment of 15 youth in the FoodWhat fall program. In addition to running small businesses based on the FoodWhat Farm, program participants will host a countywide event for 250 youth on the farm focused on nutrition and food justice, offer gardening support at six school gardens, and roll out a peer-to-peer health, nutrition, and empowerment program to local high school students.

New Leaf is a strong supporter of community initiatives and we are honored to be part of their family. Many thanks to Scott and company at New Leaf! 

photo L to R: Jose (FW Youth), Don Burgett (Executive Director, Life Lab), Scott Roseman (Owner, New Leaf Markets), Doron Comerchero (Director, FoodWhat), Max (FW Alum), Connor (FW Alum), Abby Bell (Farm & Program Manager, FoodWhat)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"Strawberry Blast!" 2013

By Vick Pozos (FoodWhat Alumni)

Each year FoodWhat invites youth from Santa Cruz County to come and enjoy our annual Strawberry Blast! 250 students piled in at the entrance gate to be greeted by Farmer D and Damian. There they made their own name tags and received a map to start off their day.

The first location on the map were the strawberry fields. Yum! The students walked down the rows of strawberries, harvesting them right off the plant. As they walked down the rows there were signs every few feet. Each sign had a fact, like "Did you know? -- There are about 200 seeds in every strawberry." Or asked the students questions to get them to think of the process their food goes through to get from the ground to their plate, and the people involved in the process.

As they continued following the map they had finally reached the stations. They first encountered the Food Justice Wall, a workshop lead by our FoodWhat Alumni Keyah, where he talked about Food Justice--what it is, who does it effect, examples between Santa Cruz City and West Oakland, and two personal stories of farm workers in Santa Cruz County. To wrap up the workshop students came up and posted sticky notes responding to their reaction to the stories, what justice issues they see in their community and what actions they can take. As each student left they were surprised by many of the facts and the stories, but also left empowered.

Continuing on the map the students came across "Strawberry, What?!" where they got to learn more about strawberries. We also had for the first time in FoodWhat history had the Watsonville Wetlands Watch and J√≥venes Sanos come out to the Strawberry Blast and host their own stations. Jovenes SANOS, a project of Go For Health!, is a Watsonville based youth advocacy project seeking to increase opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for you people of Watsonville through implementing long-term eating and physical activity. The group is working in three sectors of the community to address this public health issue: city planning, markets, and schools. Watsonville Wetlands Watch brought Wetland Stewards to teach students the importance of wetlands. They had a hands-on watershed activity where they demonstrated the affects of pollution and brought little tiny microscopic aquatic invertebrates.

In the center wooden tables students had the opportunity to transplant a lettuce plant and take it home. Next we not only had our very own smoothie bike, but Tawn brought People Power's smoothie bike. This meant double the smoothies were being made as students got on the bikes and pedaled to race who can make their smoothie faster. Once they hopped down they got to enjoy their hard work with a delicious and nutritious smoothie. YUMMM!! As students ate strawberries and smoothies, we also had strawberry tarts. Each student got to fill their own strawberry tart. Students found this the most delicious treat of the day. As students walked around they got to pet goats and hold chickens while learning about them. Not to mention we had our very own Cabrillo and UCSC table hosted by our FoodWhat Alumni Kitty and Max. They each representing their school and answered any question students had about college and handing out information. This is a sure way of getting students excited about college by having youth share their experiences and knowledge.

Going through all those stations sure got students hungry. We had the honor of having Fran bring her food truck, the Truck Stop, up to the farm and make delicious, rainbow veggie quesadillas with an AMAZING strawberry salsa. YUMMMMM!!!! Deonte and Matthew had the opportunity to help Fran prepare, cook, cut veggies and serve the delicious quesadillas to students.

Walking down to the amphitheater youth played Fast Food Jeopardy where students answered questions concerning fast food, sanitation, money, farming etc. The school that got the right answer got the points! The students walked up to the Circle tent, to the "What You think, What You Think" workshop, where they leaned about processed sugar and youth dollar power. Students also got connected to social media with The Hook Up, a station led by Alex and Connor. They connected youth to activism by using social media as a means to get connected. They used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to spread the fight for fair food using #Youth4FairFood.

At the end of the event, youth regrouped with their teachers to fill out a worksheet about what they learned that day. Needless to say, they learned A LOT!

It was an awesome event, thanks to all that came out and participated!!

Driscoll's - Everett Family Farm -Santa Cruz City Schools and Wellness Committee-
Central Coast School Food Alliance - UCSC Farm and Garden

Check out the article in the Sentinel HERE.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Week Eleven at "Food, What?!"

The final week of the the 2013 Spring internship has arrived! 
After eleven amazing weeks grubbing on delicious meals and busting it in the fields, the last week is finally here! To end of the season, we spent the day in traditional FoodWhat fashion, but with a celebratory pizza party. We kicked the day off with Farm Olympics, including a three-legged race and a wheelbarrow race.

After the game, we headed straight to the kitchen to get our pizza party started. We chopped onions, summer squash, and freshly-harvested chard to add some flavor to our pies. We worked our muscles mixing the dough ingredients, kneading the mixture, and rolling it into individual loafs to rise. For a refreshing treat, we blended up some strawberry agua fresca! 


As we waited for the dough to rise, we headed to the fields to do the last of the Spring fieldwork. We sowed carrot and beet seeds for a hefty supply of colorful veggies in the summer!

We headed over to the circle bench to find some special guests waiting for us: Max and Jasmine! These FoodWhat Alumni (Jasmine from 2010 and Max from 2011) returned to the farm to present a very informative and important workshop about college. Our current FoodWhat intern, Manuel, joined them to share his knowledge as well. Between these three students, we gained a lot of insight about college life ranging from finances and study habits to the exciting social life. Max, Jasmine, and Manuel each shared that meeting new people at college has opened them up to new opportunities and ways of thinking. They stressed the endless possibilities of studying a subject your genuinely love or care about and the financial aid available to do so.  

 Just as the workshop ended, our dough had risen and was ready to be stretched into pizza crust! We laid out the spread of toppings (which included organic chicken sausage!) and got working on our pizzas: stretching out individual crusts and personalizing them with our favorite veggies. After we finished creating our pizzas, we sent them over to Farmer D to bake in the cob oven!


At the end of the day, we had our big closing. Abby passed out rad "Food, What?!" t-shirts and cookbooks with all of the recipes we used this Spring, complete with photos of every single intern. Farmer D passed out Perfect Attendance Awards to those who diligently came to the farm every single week without fail. Now, we can include this award on our resumes to impress potential employers and prove how dependable we are! Alex explained the FoodWhat Alumni Association: now that we completed the Spring internship, we are part of a network of 300 other youth who have gone through the program. This means we can always go to FoodWhat for help with college or jobs and join in on FoodWhat reunions (like Dig Day). "Food, What?! Alumni" wristbands sealed the deal, making us part of the club.

We finished the day off with triumphs as usual, but this week we did it a little different: instead of reflecting on the day, we reflected on our eleven weeks at FoodWhat. We shared our triumphs of coming out of our comfort zones to speak in front of a group or being open to making new friends. We learned more about farming, food systems, nutrition and cooking. We tried new things and made it to the farm even when it was difficult. We completed an eleven week contract meaning we followed through with a promise and a goal.

Congratulations to all of the Spring 2013 Interns!