A front-page article from the April 16, 2016 Woodland Daily Democrat states that farm workers in Yolo County often go without food. According to the article “the California Institute for Rural Studies in Davis has completed a third study on farm worker food insecurity —this time in Yolo County, and found that there is a great deal of food insecurity locally. Even though the county has agricultural, community and programmatic assets, according to the new study, there is still food insecurity among farm workers at rates triple both the U.S. and California. “
It is reported that 32% of farm workers in Yolo County have difficulty in accessing food.
One way that the issue of food insecurity is being addressed in Winters is the Winters Farm to School Program. Started in 2011, the mission of Winters Farm to School is threefold: to raise funds to provide fresh, local produce, fruits and nuts for our children’s school meal programs; to educate our children about the positive, long-term health benefits of eating healthy foods; and to reconnect our children to the rich, deeply rooted agricultural heritage in our community.
Since Winters Farm to School first started, the program has expanded and now includes a Kids Farmers Market which meets every Tuesday at Waggoner School. With food provided by the Yolo Food Bank, kindergarteners through sixth grade take home over ten pounds of fruits, grains, nuts and vegetables every week.
According to Cathy Olsen, Food Services Director for the Winters Joint Unified School District and a founding member of Winters Farm to School, “every child also receives a recipe to take home. The kids are encouraged to prepare a meal with their family using the food they receive at the Kids Farmers Market. We’ve heard from the kids that they not only enjoy helping prepare the fresh foods provided, but they are learning a lot about healthy eating habits. And parents have told us that their children now ask them to buy some of the vegetables they are eating at school.”
“Winters Farms to School has an annual fundraiser, our Bastille Day Feast, which raises funds to buy fresh foods for our school meals” says Olsen. “Every day our kids have a selection of salad greens and another vegetable that was grown by a local farmer. I buy 99% of the fruits and vegetables that we serve in our schools locally … 58% directly from local farmers. That’s really good for our kids and our farmers.”
“I wouldn’t be able to provide all of these healthy foods to our school children without the financial support of Winters Farm to School. A good way to support our efforts is to buy a ticket for our Bastille Day Feast. Winters Farm to School is an all volunteer organization so all of the proceeds from the Bastille Day Feast go directly toward purchasing healthy foods for our school kids.”
The Fifth Annual Winters Farm to School Bastille Day Feast will be held this year on Saturday, July 9th, at the historic Wolfskill Ranch in Winters. Tickets are $100 per person and must be purchased in advance. Tickets are currently available at ACE Hardware on Main Street, on-line at brownpapertickets.com or by calling Cathy Olsen at 530-795-6109.
Tickets have sold out every year, so those who want to attend are encouraged to purchase tickets early.