Feast Q&A: Sacramento State to host farm-to-fork academy for teens

Article Sacramento Bee

Sacramento’s increasingly progressive farm-to-fork movement is sowing another field of food-consciousness with an inaugural F2F Academy for high school students, to be held twice this summer.

“We’ll get to start the weeklong (program) in the field and end it on the plate,” said Nicole Rogers, 37, who heads the F2F initiative for the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We’re all eaters, and it’s our duty to let (teens) know where our food comes from.”

The students will learn “the story of food and its impact on their health, the community and the economy,” she said. The “farm” segment will feature field trips to farms, ranches, restaurants and Raley’s supermarkets. The “fork” part will teach them the value of nutrition and food literacy. By the end of the session, students will be creating their own recipes.

The College of Continuing Education at Sac State approached Rogers with the idea of developing a F2F program to add to its list of summer academies, which already includes hands-on classes in fashion, forensics, performing arts and other topics.

Nicole Rogers, Director of Farm-to-Fork at Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. Rogers will lead the new F2F Academy at Sac State scheduled for two weeklong sessions this summer.

The F2F Academy is scheduled for July 11-15 and July 18-22; cost is $280, which includes materials. Register at www.cce.csus.edu/acads or contact Liz Arellanes at arellane@csus.edu or 916-278-6249.

Q: What’s the point of the F2F Academy?

A: To show the students opportunities and provide inspiration for career pathways. There are so many ways to become engaged (in the food system), from the science side to land management to the culinary experience. We all live in this region and we all consume food, so it’s vital to show them the roles we play in that. It may sound lofty, but the No. 1 objective is to show them that they are really a part of and the future of the food system for this region.

Q: What will the interaction be like?

A: We’re hoping to expose them to things they’ve never seen before – farming, ranching, culinary lessons, understanding the protein industry and what challenges there are, helping realize the importance of the nutrition side and letting them feel empowered about their own choices. We need to help them make smarter decisions for themselves. We as a community have to do a better job of understanding what a food system really is, from a real point of view and not just from a political or elitist perspective.

Q: Who will be attending?

A: Students who want direction (deciding) what they want to do in college, or who are interested in (a food- or agriculture-related) career field. If we help the kids eat smarter and be more empowered, they’ll make smarter (food) decisions.

Q: What will be your personal satisfaction?

A: I’ve worked with lots of high school students in my career, and the appreciation for real food has been part of my life. My mom fixed fresh food for our family, what was in season and what was available. What really makes me most proud is when students look at me and say, “I had no idea where (this product) came from until now, or how it’s made.” It’s a life shift for them.

Q: You grew up in a rural environment and didn’t eat fast food until college. As an adult, what’s your go-to in the produce department?

A: Candy-stripe figs. There’s such a small window when they’re in season (late summer to early fall), so every two days I’m bringing home more figs.