This past Saturday, Samuel J. Green Charter School hosted its first Open Garden Day of the year! It was a great success, with over 100 volunteers showing up to help our edible garden grow and make our neighborhood beautiful! The new members of the Louisiana Delta Service Corps started at ESY NOLA earlier this month and made their big debut at Open Garden Day, assisting volunteers with pruning trees, composting, seed collecting, and plenty of weeding. Some volunteers also did a great job in the kitchen, chopping tomatoes and cubing feta for the watermelon salad!
In true Firstline Schools tradition, I’d like to give a shout-out to Junior League New Orleans, Boys Hope Girls Hope of Greater New Orleans and Tulane University’s Society of Young Black Public Health Professionals for their dedication to our program along with all of the families and friends that showed up to help out! We couldn’t have made this day happen without you guys! Also, I would like to give a special shout-out to Langenstein’s for partnering with ESY NOLA, sponsoring all of the ingredients for lunch and helping make this day even more special!
Today I would like to introduce you to the team that helps bring our mission to life and who will be frequently referenced in this blog. As I mentioned last week, all 5 schools serve meals made almost entirely from scratch as well as a daily salad bar. In order to make these healthy meals available and changes happen, it takes more effort, energy and a dedicated staff. As we can see with the participation at Open Garden Day, it takes a village to make our ideas come to life, from café staff members to ESY food educators, to parents and community volunteers giving their time in our café dining commons and garden.
Chris Van Vliet is Firstline Schools’ Chef/Director of Food Services, overseeing all 5 school cafeterias. He’s been at Firstline since November 2010 and has been working in school food service for about 10 years. Ernishia Calvin is our new Food Service Administrative Assistant. Chris and Ernishia are both based out of Joseph S. Clark Prep High School, the newest FirstLine school. We work with Sodexo as our food service management company, so we can utilize their buying power to provide fresh, healthy meals for our school children. Van Cao is our Sodexo General Manager who coordinates and provides good, safe food for our school cafeterias. Juan Rodriguez is our Sodexo Area Manager that works with Firstline Schools, as well as Louis Edmond who also is a Chef/Trainer at our schools. Our Kitchen Managers across the network include: Joyce Renfro at S.J . Green, Cheritta Watts at John Dibert Community School, Kathleen Bush at Langston Hughes Academy, Jaunita Blakely at Arthur Ashe, and Shemeko Johnson at Clark Prep. All of these people help make our mission to provide good, healthy school food possible.
As for ESY NOLA, our staff has grown to 20 members across all Firstline sites and new positions, such as mine as the In-house Dietetic Intern, have been added to bring more of a health and overall wellness focus to our work. Our staff is continuing to grow and bios will be up on ESYNOLA.org shortly.
Next week, find out what our third and fourth graders plates have in common with the First Lady’s plate!