Five parent volunteers at Macquiddy Elementary School in Watsonville became Nutrition Ambassadors in February. At a celebration on the 27th, each graduate received a certificate, t-shirt, apron and other items to mark their accomplishment. The Nutrition Ambassador certification is part of Second Harvest’s Passion For Produce program. Volunteers attend six one-hour workshops to become certified to help manage produce distributions and share nutrition information with their peers.
Jake Harder, an Americorps volunteer at Second Harvest, taught the workshops and coordinated the graduation. Brooke Johnson, Chief Operations and Programs Officer at Second Harvest also attended the ceremony, which included a delicious and healthy meal including black bean casserole, brown rice, roasted veggies, fruit compote and apple crisp.
Maria Fajardo, MacQuiddy Elementary School staff and parent liaison, explained the impact the program is having at the school. She said that since partnering with Second Harvest to distribute fresh produce at MacQuiddy School, they have seen fewer students in the office with stomachaches from skipping breakfast. Also, now that students are eating more fruits and veggies at home, they are more receptive to them at school. Before, many students would throw away their veggie and fruits cups, but now they are eating them.
The program is also helping to connect parents to the school. The students are proud of their parents for volunteering with the program. And low-income students who felt marginalized by poverty, now realize there are a lot of families in the same situation.
The following are some of the comments made by the Nutrition Ambassadors.
The program is helping me to make small changes in the way our family eats at home. Learning to read food labels has been especially important.
Before, I didn’t know how to cook in the oven; I prepared all our meals by frying on the stovetop. I have learned new cooking techniques and recipes through this program.
This training has made me think about how much sugar we consume at home. One of the important, small changes we have made is reducing the teaspoons of sugar my husband and I put in our coffee. It is taking some getting used to, but I explained to him why it is important!
I am retired and was looking for a way to help the community. My daughter recommended I volunteer with this program. It is a big help to many families in this school and neighborhood.
Congratulations to everyone and thank you for you commitment to building a strong and healthy community!