Lauren Valentino, Food Corps Service Member

Lauren Valentino - FoodCorps Servicemember - 2015-16Sierra Harvest has been lucky to have some awesome Food Corps Service Members move key programs forward, and Lauren Valentino was no exception. Over the past year, Lauren helped us launch “California Thursdays” in 25 schools in Western Nevada County. California Thursdays is a state-wide program that requires school districts to source ingredients for lunches on Thursdays from the state of California.

As part of the program, Lauren worked closely with food service director Theresa Ruiz of Nevada Joint Union High School District to increase local produce purchasing for school meals, developing relationships with many of our local farmers, and helping Theresa get to know which seasonal produce offerings are specific to the Sierra Foothills. Students got to enjoy fresh lunch time options like an Asian Noodle Bowl with Lime Chili Sauce and Spring Vegetables, and an organic beet and carrot salad. Yum!

To ensure the kids would get excited about these unfamiliar new offerings, Lauren organized student led monthly cafeteria taste tests of local/regional produce and assisted with brainstorming new recipes for the Nevada Joint Union High School District.

Lauren also helped make the build-out of a new school garden at Yuba

Lauren Valentino (in California Thursday shirt) at at tasting at Nevada Union High School.
Lauren Valentino (in California Thursday shirt) at at tasting at Nevada Union High School.

River Charter School happen, with five large raised beds and a tool shed. Lauren is grateful for the support she got from the community: “It was a full on community effort that I helped coordinate and orchestrate.” Thanks for your service Lauren!  You really did move the discussion on school food forward in Nevada County.