SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Food insecurity is a nationwide dilemma. For San Luis Coastal Unified School District, it's a problem they face head-on.
It's not something they have faced alone though. Students working at the Cal Poly Dairy Unit have provided the fruits of their labor, namely eggs and dairy products like cheese and milk, to the school district.
"So this partnership by chance and happenstance because of COVID. My daughter was at home on her Zoom with her school, San Luis High, she was in a nutrition class," said Craig Russell, the Dairy Operations Manager for the university. "They were talking about local food, and I said to my daughter, why don’t you type in the queue ‘how would you like to have Cal Poly milk in your school?’ From there I got connected with Erin Primer at the SLO school district and the rest is history."
Jessiryah Cordova, an intern at the dairy unit on campus, is excited by the future possibilities.
"We were super excited to hear that they wanted our cheese. It’s going to be big for the dairy," she said, "It’s just really good to know we can give back to the community. Especially since we have the opportunity since we’re a fully student-run dairy."
And that work the students put in at the dairy is paying off for SLCUSD.
"We’re serving close to 30,000 meals every week, so the kids get local produce. We’re really featuring Cal Poly eggs and cheese," said Lauren Thomas, a registered dietician for the school district.
"I don’t think many districts really focus as much as we do on local procurement," Thomas said as she continued to fill boxes, something the school does all day every Friday.
"This connection, especially with Cal Poly, you have college students who are producing the milk and the eggs and the cheese and then they can bring that into K-12 education? It’s amazing."
And according to Micah Smith, a resident of San Luis Obispo, the high quality, whole foods they receive make a big difference.
"It’s very nice knowing that it is locally sourced and that we’re helping local people and local people are helping us."