Farmers Donate Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Beef to Classrooms

Classes from 14 high schools in San Joaquin County receiving food and recipes from local industry

More than 2,000 high school students from six San Joaquin County school districts are learning how to cook with locally grown produce and meat through a donation from the local agriculture industry.  

The San Joaquin-Stanislaus CattleWomen, San Joaquin Chapter of California Women for Agriculture, and the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation partnered to donate more than 500 pounds of apples, pumpkins, cabbage, almonds, tomatoes, and ground beef for students to cook with in class. Teachers collect the goods at the Stockton campus of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, which coordinated the donation of the goods with school districts.

For three consecutive weeks starting Sept. 18, Family and Consumer Services and other instructors from 14 participating high schools will receive two agricultural commodities and recipes to share with their classes. Selections will highlight locally sourced produce, starting with apples and beef.

"It's amazing," said Elizabeth Aschenbrenner, who teaches culinary arts and food science at Sierra High School in the Manteca Unified School District. She said the local farmers always donate top-quality food, and that it is a great way to make the connection between local agriculture and Family and Consumer Services classes. "They grow it; we prepare it."

Aschenbrenner said she her class would look over the recipes provided before getting to work, but she thought a variety of dishes, from apple crisp to black bean chili, could be in their future.

CattleWomen Chapter President Mary Robinson was at the SJCOE to pass out recipes between helping teachers load up with the donated food.

“It is one thing to hand out a recipe, but once someone actually cooks beef and enjoys a tasty dish, they have the confidence to cook all sorts of meals. We hope these donations will have a lifelong impact on the students,” she said.

 Participating schools:

Lincoln and Village Oaks high schools (Lincoln Unified School District)
Linden High School (Linden Unified School District)
McNair and Tokay high schools (Lodi Unified School District)
Be.Tech, East Union, Lathrop, New Vision, Sierra, and Weston Ranch high schools   (Manteca Unified School District)
Ripon High School (Ripon Unified School District)
Tracy and West high schools (Tracy Unified School District)

San Joaquin County agriculture is a $2.5 billion industry, making it the sixth largest among California counties. The state produces about 400 different agricultural commodities and about half the fruits and vegetables in the United States.

Posted: 9/18/2018