Introducing "Farm to Toast" by Explore Ecology

Introducing "Farm to Toast" by Explore Ecology title=
Introducing "Farm to Toast" by Explore Ecology
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Source: Explore Ecology

Santa Barbara: Reading, writing, arithmetic, and wheat! Soon, children in three Santa Barbara schools will be growing, harvesting, and milling their own wheat, thanks to a new program called Farm to Toast. 

The CA Department of Education awarded the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Food Services $133,539 to launch Farm to Toast in three school gardens and kitchens in Santa Barbara.

A new partnership between the SBUSD Food Services and nonprofit Explore Ecology, Farm to Toast has three main components; education, professional development, and increased California-grown produce in school meals. 

Students at La Cumbre Junior High, Santa Barbara Community Academy, and Monroe Elementary will participate in an in-depth yearlong study of wheat production in California. The grant pays for increased Explore Ecology Garden Education split between the three school gardens. Students will put their newfound agricultural knowledge into action by planting demonstration wheat gardens, processing wheat into flour using new hand mills, and baking bread in two new portable wood burning ovens. Fresh bread, created with student-grown flour and other California-grown wheat, will be served in school cafeterias. 

Students at each of the other SBUSD elementary schools will receive lessons on bread making and enjoy fresh bread.

The grant also includes funds for SBUSD Food Service and Explore Ecology Garden Educators to tour a California wheat production facility. A Chef Educator will also be contracted to train both SBUSD and Explore Ecology staff in baking fresh bread. 
 
Nancy Weiss, Director of Food Service at the Santa Barbara Unified School District says, "Farm to Toast is the culmination of two vital principals of life, growing food organically and turning that food into sustenance which will nourish bodies and minds for health and longevity! Teaching kids to grow wheat, mill it into flour, learn to knead the dough, and make bread is the full spectrum experience. We are proud to be sponsoring such a program and watching as our students- Eat to Live, Live to Learn, and Learn to Eat."
Alex Bereda, Explore Ecology's Education Director, says, "Explore Ecology is so proud to partner with SBUSD to bring more California Grown produce into our student’s meals. This project is the perfect blend of rich experiences for students, food service, and garden education staff.” 
Nancy Weiss at Organic Farm
Nancy Weiss at Organic Farm
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The Santa Barbara Unified School District Food Services emphasizes sustainability while providing fresh California grown ingredients for carefully planned, healthy meals. SBUSD currently serves 40,000 breakfasts and lunches per week to students attending 21 elementary, junior, and senior high schools. Many of these sites are provision 2 where all students receive a free breakfast and lunch. Food Services also serves supper at 14 school sites and provides meals at 16 summer sites through the Federal Free or Reduced Meal program.
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Explore Ecology educates over 30,000 students in classrooms, on field trips to the Watershed Resource Center and Art From Scrap, and in school gardens throughout Santa Barbara County each year.

For more information about Farm to Toast contact Jill@ExploreEcology.org.

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About Explore Ecology: Explore Ecology is an environmental education and arts nonprofit that works with over 30,000 children a year, inspiring them to engage with the natural world, think critically, and experience the value of environmental stewardship. Explore Ecology programs include the Art From Scrap Creative ReUse Store and Gallery, Watershed Resource Center, and School Gardens Program. For more information, visit ExploreEcology.org.

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