School Food

The national debate on how America feeds our children at school is spurring school districts to rethink their investment in what students are eating during their lunch period. Some students consume more than 50% of their daily calories at school so that one meal is critical to help eager minds and growing bodies perform at their very best.

Sierra Harvest’s School Food Program assists school food service directors with procuring local and regional foods and offers financial assistance to purchase salad bar equipment for their campuses. Here are some of our activities and accomplishments:

Foothills Fresh

The Nevada Joint High School District, in partnership with Sierra Harvest, is rolling out a whole new lunch experience for students at Nevada City School District. The new school food program, Foothills Fresh, will offer the same freshly prepared meals provided to High School students for the kindergarten through 8th grade students at Deer Creek Elementary and Seven Hills Middle School.  Meals will be delivered daily, served hot and fresh and feature organic, local produce.  Menu items include burritos using regionally made tortillas and black beans from Foothills Farm in Auburn and pizza featuring 50% whole wheat pizza crust from Truckee Sourdough Company. Fresh organic strawberries, pluots and pears from JSM Organics, Wild River and Indian Springs farms are being procured for the meals as the schools start their year. A big thank you goes to Theresa Ruiz, Food Services Directors, and her team at the Nevada Joint Union High School District.  Theresa has worked with Sierra Harvest for the past five years to increase local, organic foods in her delicious meals prepared largely from scratch. The program aims to increase locally sourced foods, reduce packaging and food waste, and create a nutritious lunch that students are excited to eat.

If your school or district would like more information about Foothills Fresh, please contact Lauren Scott at

California Thursdays

California Thursday - homestudy - approved for web

California grown food for California kids is the simple premise behind the movement, California Thursdays. Launched in Western Nevada County on March 17, 2016, over 10,000 kids were served items that were grown and produced in California, including this fresh spinach walnut and strawberry salad!  California Thursdays aims to provide a meal every Thursday to students whose ingredients were sourced as locally as possible. One day, every day will be California Thursday. Read more about California Thursdays, participating schools, recipes or send a thank you to your school meal provider!

Salad Bars

2girl_salad_barSierra Harvest is thrilled to have been able to provide salad bars to four schools in Nevada County and the students are voting for fresh veggies every day with their enthusiasm for salads. In the 2013-14 school year, the Nevada Joint Union High School District served 3,000 salads. Now that all of their schools have salad bars, they estimate they will serve over 15,000 salads this year. And who says kids don’t like vegetables? If your school is interested in getting salad bar equipment paid for by Sierra Harvest, please contact us.

School Food Procurement

LaurenV_NUsalad1Since the 2013-14 school year, our work with the Nevada Joint Union High School District has increased the amount of local produce purchased from .02% to 10%!

Sierra Harvest is also working in collaboration Grass Valley School District Child Nutrition Services (GVSDCNS), the meal provider to many of our local schools, to incorporate more locally and regionally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The ultimate goal is to have fresh, affordable, scratch-cooked school meals in all Nevada County schools. We are working toward this goal this through community engagement events, educational programs and connecting local farms to school meal providers.  Is fresh, healthy school food important to you? Contact your local school and let them know you are behind this movement! Are you a local farmer who can provide food to the schools? Learn more here.

Taste Testing

eco club with orange tasting - NU Feb 2016Taste testings have become a regular activity in high school lunchrooms thanks to the enthusiasm of the Nevada Joint Union High School District Culinary Staff. These dedicated chefs chop, dice, bake, stir and shake up delightful, authentic culinary dishes for students to taste. Sierra Harvest helps organize students to do peer to peer taste tests gathering results for the culinary team on what the kids are loving.  If the students really love an item, then Theresa Ruiz, Director of School Food Services for NJUHSD, gets on the phone to place another order of those farm fresh items for the students. Want to help out with a student taste test? Contact us.

Culinary Training

culinary trainingThe NJUHSD Culinary Team got out their aprons, cutting boards, and knives at Tess’s Kitchen store to test out the latest CA Thursday recipes that they would be making for 800 students. Teams were slicing red bell peppers, boiling pasta, making a special Asian sauce, chopping fresh cilantro and taking in all the wonderful sights and smells of a scratched cooked school meal in the making. When all the flurry of activity stopped, the culinary team sat down to enjoy their creations and give each other feedback on how they might tweak the recipe to make it taste even better for the students. Sierra Harvest was so inspired to be able to sponsor this culinary training and plans have already been made to provide more culinary training opportunities in the coming school year. Contact us to learn more about the partnership between Sierra Harvest, NJUHSD and Tess’s Kitchen that made this professional development opportunity possible.