PSJA promotes fresh local produce with farm-to-school initiative

Local News

Courtesy: Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District

PHARR, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District continues to incorporate its “Farm-to-School” initiative as part of its efforts to educate students on food and healthier eating.

The district is proud to continue to highlight efforts in celebration of National School Lunch Week that will be taking place October 12 through the 15.

The Farm to School Initiative at PSJA ISD includes an approach that incorporates sustainability and school nutrition elements, according to PSJA Agroecology & Sustainability Supervisor Habraham Lopez, This allows students to make important connections to the food they consume daily as well as to the curriculum. 

Including a variety of Pre-K through 12-grade programs, the Farm-to-School initiative allows students to make valuable connections. Students also take ownership by getting the opportunity to harvest and try the food they help grow, according to a press release from PSJA.

The Farm-to-School initiative is part of the district’s efforts to bring local produce into schools and teach students about nutrition through fun, experiential learning, according to the PSJA Child Nutrition Director Imelda Palacios.

This initiative is made possible in an interdepartmental collaboration between the PSJA Child Nutrition Program, PSJA Pathways Toward Independence Program (PSJA PTI), and campuses districtwide.  

PSJA Child Nutrition Program has been working closely with students in the PSJA PTI Program to expand the initiative and help start gardens at various campuses. The PSJA PTI Programs promote the development of vocational training skills and function independent living skills to assist special needs students (ages 14 – 21) in becoming emergent adults in the community.

“The students at PTI have been the heroes of our program since day one,” said Lopez. “As garden experts, they show students from all grade levels how to seed, plant, harvest, cook, and eat fruits and vegetables in a fun creative way.” 

Courtesy Photos: Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District

At Berta Palacios Elementary in Pharr, the garden has made a significant impact among students and staff as they have been able to grow kale, peppers, cabbage, cilantro, watermelon, and even papaya, avocado, guava, and peach trees. 

“Our students had a great experience learning from the PTI students and the Child Nutrition team. The most rewarding part was witnessing the exchange of knowledge and application among all the students,” said Palacios Elementary Principal Michelle Fox-Cardoza. “The garden has allowed our students the opportunity to discover the value in sustainable living experiences and make cross-curricular connections.” 

In celebration of the 2021 National School Lunch Week, the PSJA Child Nutrition Program recently hosted an event where PSJA PTI students got to plant kale as part of the Farm to School initiative and learn how to make creative art using fruit and vegetables through hands-on instruction from PSJA Chef Rodrigo Puente. 

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