California's First Partner, Jennifer Newsom, visited Waggoner School to learn more about the Winters Farm to School Program. Joining Newsom were Patty Rominger, Cathy Olsen and Gloria Lopez, all Board Members of Winters Farm to School.
A very special guest was in attendance at Waggoner School this past Tuesday, November 12, 2019. California’s First Partner, our state Governor’s wife, Jennifer Newsom, came to learn more about the thriving Winters Farm to School program. Ms. Newsom arrived just in time to see the Kids Farmer’s Market in full swing. The Kids Farmer’s Market is a partnership with the Winters School District, the Yolo Food Bank and Winters Farm to School where Kindergarteners through fifth graders take home an average of 10-12 pounds of local, healthy fruits, nuts, grains and vegetables every week.
The First Partner’s visit was scheduled through Nick Anicich, Farm to School Program Lead with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Office of Farm to Fork. Anicich and (Winters own) Jenny Lester Moffitt, Undersecretary of the CDFA had visited the Waggoner Kids Farmer’s Market this past September and they wanted Newsom to see first-hand the work of Winters Farm to School. “The Winters Farm to School Program is a model from which other schools can learn” said Anicich. “Cathy Olsen understands procurement like few other Food Service Directors and that’s key to having the success Winters has experienced. It is more work to include local foods, but it is ultimately so worth it for the kids, for farmers and for the community.”
Joining the First Partner was Michael Bisch, Executive Director of the Yolo Food Bank, Todd Cutler, Superintendent of the Winters School District, Jennifer Kloczko, Waggoner Principal, Donnie Whitworth, Winters High Ag Teacher, Cathy Olsen, School District Food Services Director, and two members of the Winters Farm to School Board, Gloria Lopez and Patty Rominger.
As Newsom toured the Waggoner School garden, fully funded by Winters Farm to School, she was impressed to hear how the community works collaboratively with the schools for the betterment of all our citizens. Superintendent Cutler told Newsom “I’ve worked in Winters for five years now and have never been in a community so supportive of their children as Winters. Winters is truly a special place.” Waggoner Principal Kloczko shared that students recently visited Dixon Ridge Farm to learn more about our town’s rich agricultural history and how students also participated in the recent Salmon Festival by creating murals as part of the school’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program. High School Ag Teacher, Donnie Whitworth, spoke about the long-desired and now-happening development of the High School Ag Site into a working student farm. Whitworth said mandarins and olive trees have been planted. The plan is to produce olive oil for sale. Rominger brought up a $10,000 Community Grant given to Winters Farm to School last year by First Northern Bank. Those funds were used in part to add decomposed granite throughout the garden walkways and to purchase new, weather-resistant tables with permanent shade umbrellas. With the addition of the tables, the Waggoner garden can now function as an outdoor classroom.
After observing the Kids Farmer’s Market and touring the school garden, Newsom asked to see the kitchen facility at Waggoner. Cathy Olsen led that tour, explaining that all of the meals served on the various district campuses are prepared on-site at Waggoner and shuttled to the other school sites. Olsen and her kitchen staff currently prepare over 1,000 meals per day. All of those meals include fresh foods grown by Yolo County farmers with funds provided by Winters Farm to School.
The First Partner’s visit will be remembered as a day when many important connections were made. Newsom got to know Winters a little bit better and those who came together to meet with her had the opportunity to learn more about how each of our individual organizations are working together toward building a better and healthier future for all of our children.