Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria is sponsoring Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture’s (SEEAG) “Santa Barbara County Child Wellness Initiative” at its highest $10,000 “Rain Maker” level.
The program educates, inspires and empowers children to eat healthy by adding locally grown Santa Barbara fruits and vegetables to their diet to help ward off childhood obesity that could lead to diabetes.
The goal is to raise $40,000 that will go toward the purchase of a colorful, vegetable-themed Farm Fresh Mobile Classroom van that will travel to Santa Barbara County schools as part of SEEAG’s Child Wellness Initiative.
Santa Maria berry growers Rancho Laguna Farms and Titan Frozen Fruit each contributed $3,500 toward the van.
“Agriculture is the heart of Northern Santa Barbara County and a vital part of our career education programs at Allan Hancock College,” says Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers, Ph.D. “We are happy to help SEEAG continue its important mission of educating young students in our community about local agriculture and healthy eating.”
The Child Wellness Initiative began in Santa Barbara County this year. The free program was first introduced in 2017 in Ventura County. More than 60 schools and 8,000 third-grade students participate each year. Currently, the wellness program is held through Zoom. Many of the participating schools are designated Title 1 (50 percent or more of their students are enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs).
“We get students enthusiastic about eating a rainbow of colorful vegetables containing essential nutrients that help their mind and body,” says Mary Maranville, SEEAG’s founder and CEO. “Better eating habits are so critical since obesity rates among children are as high as 25 percent in some communities. We can’t wait to roll out the new van and begin in-person learning.”
Rancho Laguna Farms and Titan Frozen Fruit grow strawberries and raspberries in the Santa Maria Valley.
“Titan Frozen Fruit is excited to join SEEAG in supporting children in our community and educating them on the importance of where their food comes from,” says Susan Gonzalez, field representative at Titan Frozen Fruit.
SEEAG is holding a live online auction March 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to raise additional funds for the Farm Fresh van and the Wellness Initiative. An online silent auction will take place March 23 to March 25. Auction items include farm-to-table dinners, weekend get-aways, wine tastings, restaurant and winery gift cards and gift baskets.
Auctioneer Pete Melero will conduct the live auction from Allan Hancock College’s Santa Maria campus. Dr. Walthers will be the emcee. Donations for the silent and live auctions are being accepted. Silent auction sign-ups are free. Live auction participation is $15. For $50, participants receive a bottle of wine from Riverbench Vineyard & Winery delivered to the ticketholder’s location (must be age 21 or older).
To sign up to participate for the silent and live auctions or to make an auction item donation, go to https://www.seeag.org/liveauction.
Founded in 2008, Students for Eco-Education and Agriculture (SEEAG) is a nonprofit organization that aims to help young students understand the origins of their food by bridging the gap between agriculture and consumption through its agricultural education programming. SEEAG’s “The Farm Lab” program based in Ventura County teaches schoolchildren about the origins of their food and the importance of local farmland by providing schools with classroom agricultural education and free field trips to farms. Through this and other SEEAG programs, over 60,000 elementary school students in Central and Southern California have increased their understanding of the food journey. For more information, visit www.seeag.org or email Mary Maranville at email@example.com.