Foothills Fresh Wins Innovation Award from Center for Ecoliteracy

CEL Innovation Award Winner

On June 28, Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden (far right), Nevada City School District interim Superintendent Monica Daugherty (second from right), and Sierra Harvest Co-director Aimee Retzler (far left) accepted an Innovation Award for their collaborative efforts in launching the Foothills Fresh School Lunch program in 2017.

The Foothills Fresh School Lunch Program is a partnership amongst the two school districts and Sierra Harvest to provide a healthy, scratch-cooked meal for K-8th grade students featuring minimal packaging and fresh ingredients. Meals are prepared in the Nevada Union High School kitchen each morning and delivered daily in hotel pans. Since the start of the program, participation in the lunch program at Nevada City School District has doubled and both districts have increased revenue to reinvest in healthy dining options. 

The award was given at the Center for Ecoliteracy’s statewide conference: Cultivating Healthy and Sustainable School Communities. School Districts and agencies from across California gathered in Oakland to learn and share practical innovative strategies for increasing access to healthier food in schools. 

While representatives from Nevada County attended the conference to bring fresh ideas home with them, they were also asked to present on successful school food strategies being implemented in Nevada County. NJUHSD Superintendent Brett McFadden was invited to take part on a panel of unique stakeholders discussing how they support Farm to School in their respective roles. McFadden advised conference participants to stay in it for the long haul.  Changing a national school lunch program isn’t done overnight and for him, nutritious meals are part of a school’s overall strategy to ensure and sustain an effective learning environment for students.

During the Good Food Showcase presented by the Community Alliance for Family Farmers (CAFF), Sierra Harvest Procurement Specialist, Lauren Scott, demonstrated a Tasting Day recipe from the guest chef in schools program that Sierra Harvest has been operating since 2011. Conference participants had the opportunity to create a ‘Taco Tuesday in a Jar’ using a recipe from the 2018 Tasting Week Recipe Book.   It’s the perfect time of year for this type of recipe as we enjoy the bounty of our local farms here in Nevada County.