The SCUSD Farm will throw its first district-wide Nutrition Services Food Showcase on Friday, Oct. 4, 4 – 6 p.m. Open to the public, this event will allow guests of all ages to tour the farm where produce for Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) schools is grown. The SCUSD Farm is located at 1055 Dunford Way in Sunnyvale.
Guests might see the enormous Nvidia-sponsored pumpkin patch — the plan is to gift each of the 18 SCUSD elementary schools with 100 harvested pumpkins each. They also might spot hives filled with bees which, according to volunteer beekeeper Todd Waltz, primarily assist with pollinating the agriculture and second, produce honey used in recipes. Additionally, guests could survey the endless rows of produce growing from the soil.
“We want to promote our program and show parents and staff what we do in our Nutrition Services Department,” said Sheri Nielsen, SCUSD’s Operations Manager for Nutrition Services. “A lot of people don’t know what our program is about. This is a good way to show people what we do, where our food comes from, who our vendors are, how we pick our food for the cafeteria and how we utilize farm fresh produce in our cafeteria.”
On the farm tour, guests will see where the District’s food is being grown and what it’s being used for.
“Right now, Farmer David Tuttle is growing heirloom tomatoes,” said Nielsen, offering a farm-to-school example. “The tomatoes get picked and will get delivered to Wilcox High School. Once it gets to Wilcox, we will schedule someone to clean all the tomatoes and divide it between all of our schools. Everyday, we pick at least eight schools that will get fresh produce delivered to them. That day, our driver will pick up all the clean tomatoes and deliver it to the eight sites.
“Once it gets there, we send an email to our staff about how to serve our tomatoes,” Nielsen continued. “They can be sliced and put into a salad, or sliced and eaten by itself. If the tomatoes are sent with other vegetables, such as cucumbers, they are also cleaned and sliced and served with the tomatoes and Italian dressing. We have a salad bar at every school and the students can take as much vegetables as they want. We also have the Early Girls tomatoes that we grow for marinara sauce. When those get delivered to the site, we clean them, and our chefs would roast and puree them for a marinara sauce to be served with spaghetti.”
According to Nielsen, the School District’s menu has already been set for the school year. On Oct. 4, a number of these menu items will be available for sampling in small portion cups. These menu items include salmon, eggrolls, breakfast muffins, farm vegetables, clam chowder and lemon cream pasta.
Nielsen emphasized how the Nutrition Services Department strives to offer healthy dining options to the district students.
“We use Tyson chicken — their chickens haven’t been treated with antibiotics or hormones. Tyson will be there giving samples of their nuggets and orange chicken,” Nielsen said. “Our milk is also hormone and antibiotic-free. We also offer dairy substitutes to children with dairy allergies.”
“We farm organically, but we are not organically-certified. We don’t use pesticides,” said Karen Luna, SCUSD’s Director of Nutrition Services. “Since school began in August, we have already delivered over 5,000 pounds of produce from the farm to the district schools.”