Category Archives: Programs

Slow Food San Francisco recruiting new Board Members/Leaders




Do you love local, organic, sustainable slow food and have a desire to be a leader in the largest social food movement in the world? ( Slow Food San Francisco (SFSF) is now recruiting Board members for 2017. This is a volunteer position and we seek 6 – 8 individuals who will lead the local chapter founded in 1989.

Slow Food is an idea, a way of living and a way of eating. It is a global, grassroots movement with thousands of members around the world that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment.

Slow Food works around the world to protect food biodiversity, build links between producers and consumers, and raise awareness of some of the most pressing topics affecting our food system.

These initiatives range from community activities organized by local chapters to larger projects, campaigns and events coordinated by Slow Food’s national and international headquarters.

▪       Saving endangered foods and defending culinary traditions through our biodiversity projects

▪       Teaching the pleasure of food and how to make good, clean and fair choices through food and taste education

▪       Celebrations of the culinary traditions of the world, (with an emphasis on the Bay Area) artisanal cheese and fish, and meetings of our worldwide networks in our international events

▪       From animal welfare to land grabbing, addressing themes that we care about

▪       Connecting people passionate about changing the food system through our network


Board members have a responsibility to ensure that SFSF does the best work possible in pursuit of its mission and values.


Board Service Responsibilities:

•      Attend Board meetings held monthly;

•      Develop a thorough understanding of the mission and programs of SFSF

•      Set strategies and guide organization’s growth and development;

•      Develop knowledge of nonprofit board governance, nonprofit management, network building;

•      Support fundraising efforts of SFSF through city-wide events, cultivating donor relationships, and by obtaining monetary and/or in-kind contributions from other sources;

•      Be an advocate and champion for the success and sustainability of SFSF, our partners and community.


Skills and Experiences Desired:

We seek individuals with one or more of the following:

  • PR, communications, or event planning expertise
  • Nonprofit leadership or management
  • Fundraising experience
  • A love for food and food justice


SFS Board shall serve a minimum of one 12-month term. For more information on SFSF please check out our website at

Interested persons are asked to please complete the attached application here and you can also send a cover letter to Dava Guthmiller, subject line: SFSF Board Member. Deadline for applications is May 5, 2016.



Childhood Obesity

Tackling the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

by Lisa Stead

Childhood obesity is an epidemic that is affecting most of the developed world, and the United States is no exception. While there may be a variety of factors contributing to the rise of obesity in our children, two of the main culprits are widely acknowledged to be poor diet and lack of exercise.

childhood obesity

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of children in the United States who are classed as obese has more than doubled between 1980 and 2010, and the number of adolescents has actually tripled. Worryingly, the figures show that over a third of children and adolescents were obese in 2010.

Why is obesity so bad?

Children who are obese can suffer serious health problems, both during their childhood and in later life. These problems can include high blood pressure, cardiovascular problems and joint problems, as well as psychological issues to do with self-esteem and self-confidence.

Studies have shown that children who are obese are much more likely to be obese as adults and therefore have an increased risk of suffering adult health problems associated with excessive weight gain, such as heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Dietary problems

A variety of different initiatives have been instigated to help counteract the growing childhood obesity problem, many of which aim to change children’s eating habits. Too many children are eating diets that contain excess calories, are heavy in sugar and saturated fat and don’t provide them with the necessary nutritional balance. When coupled with little or no exercise, this lifestyle can very quickly lead to excessive weight gain. Children need to be encouraged to eat less processed food and more fresh food, including fruit and vegetables, which provide them with more nutrition for fewer calories. Nutritionists have identified certain ‘superfoods’, which are so called because they have a very high nutritional value. Incorporating a variety of these superfoods, such as blueberries, seaweed or strawberries, into children’s everyday diets can give them an alternative to the less-healthy, calorie-laden food they are used to eating, and help give their nutritional intake a real boost.


Schools have been identified as key players in the fight against childhood obesity, as they provide the perfect opportunity for children to learn about healthy eating. Schools are also ideally placed to directly influence what children are eating through the provision of healthy school lunches.

The CDC has recognized the vital role that schools can play and has produced a series of guidelines for schools to follow that are designed to promote the benefits of healthy eating and taking regular physical exercise. Each guideline is backed up by separate implementation strategies to support schools in their work towards meeting the guidelines.

Success stories

Studies have shown that initiatives to tackle the childhood obesity problem through changes in eating habits can be successful.

At the start of the year, the New York State Department of Health reported on the success of its new Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which it introduced in January 2009.

The program is designed to promote the benefits of good nutrition to women in low-income groups who are pregnant or have recently given birth, and also to children up to the age of five. The program provides them with food packages that offer nutritionally balanced food, including fruit and vegetables. It also provides advice on the best way to increase their levels of physical activity.

An analysis of the results of the program found greater levels of healthy eating amongst the program participants and a continuing drop in obesity levels over and above national trends.

“The new WIC food package was designed to promote healthier eating choices for children and we are excited by results that show it is helping to reduce pediatric obesity,” commented State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H.

CDC study has also revealed some positive findings regarding childhood obesity trends. Researchers looked at data relating to 27.5 million low income pre-school children across the United States and found drops in the incidence of obesity and extreme obesity.

The figures showed that the prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75% in 1998 to 2.22% in 2003, but then fell to 2.07% by 2010.

Similarly, the figure for obesity rose from 13.05% in 1998 to 15.21% in 2003, but then decreased to 14.94% in 2010.

Researchers put these slight improvements down to the success of health and nutrition programs targeting mothers and young children similar to the New York State WIC program. The success of these programs suggests that the fight against childhood obesity can be won and children can be supported to live healthier and more active lives.

Success Through School Food and Beyond

by Raymond Isola & John and Lolita Casazza

On the edge of San Francisco’s Mission District is Sanchez College Preparatory School, an elementary school that is working to address issues of hunger, poor nutrition, and deteriorating health within one of the city’s most affected populations. The school has a child development center that has established a unique community-based program to improve nutrition and health habits for its 300 students and their families.

Sanchez School reflects the make-up of its neighborhood with a diverse population of students: 80 percent are Latino, with the remaining 20 percent of Filipino, other Asian, African-American, and European decent. Of the 82 percent of the students who qualify for the school lunch program, many of their families are considered low-income. What we are learning is that better diets equate to improved health, which can be correlated to more regular school attendance and increased learning. A study in 2010 entitled Hunger In America found that “children from food insecure households are likely to be behind in their academic development compared to children from food secure families.” Given these findings and a deep understanding of the student population at Sanchez School, leaders of the school community sought to create a community education center to offer a proactive strategy for improving student and family nutritional knowledge and habits, while also improving student academic performance.

This vision deepened during a visit to Sanchez School by Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food International. Mr. Petrini and Dr. Isola, the former principal of Sanchez College Preparatory School, developed a School Community Development tool that incorporated three main goals:

1. Create a more natural environment so that students can play, exercise, and learn. This space would include an edible instructional garden where students learn to grow and prepare their own food.

2. Provide increased family and student access to seasonal, healthy food on a daily basis.

3. Engage key community members (chefs, local farmers, school staff, artists, parents, businesses, neighborhood associations, and non-profit or community-based organizations) in the development and execution of this project.

One of the first actions taken was to develop a Green Schoolyard Master Plan as part of a voter-approved, bond-funded project where parents, students, staff, and the community at large would help to design a hands-on learning model. This model would offer more open space and an outdoor learning environment for all children at school. With the help of organizations like Slow Food San Francisco, INKA Biospheric Systems, Bi-Rite Market, Education Outside and others, the once underutilized areas on campus became active areas with a school garden and greenhouse. The landscape included multiple beds of greens, herbs, flowers, and vegetables; a compost bin; an earth bed to play in and explore for insects and worms; and a state of the artvertical garden. Based on the school master plan, a large section of asphalt was taken out and two obsolete portable classrooms were removed to make room for a teaching garden and natural outdoor play environment.

A full-time green schoolyard specialist was hired through a grant. This specialist co-taught with the science teacher to incorporate the students’ garden learning into the science curriculum being taught by classroom teachers. The students also learned about recycling and composting. These combined learning experiences helped students develop environmentally responsible stewardship behaviors that are connected to ecological values within the context of the school’s daily operation. As students worked on building beds, they were visited by Apolinar Yerena, a local strawberry farmer and Mexican immigrant who shared his knowledge of strawberries as he planted them with students. Eventually these strawberries became a popular fruit for the students to eat and make sorbet with.

Soon the larger school community started to take interest in the greening project. Mothers who grew up in the Mexican and El Salvadoran countryside commented that their children, who live in the city, had the opportunity to experience what they had lived growing up in their far away countries. In the spirit of continuing to build community, Sanchez School constructed an outdoor meeting space and peace garden right in the middle of the playground that included native plants, a cobb bench, tiled murals, and large rocks where the students could play and relax. This collaboration was an effort between the school staff, the Sanchez Neighborhood Association, and the student council. There is also a sculpture garden on the west side of the school building that community members can see on a walk through the neighborhood.

To complete the garden project, Sanchez School formed a partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank in 2008. By then, Sanchez School had built a learning space and enacted a curriculum, but still desired more structured participation from parents and the community as a whole. This partnership with the food bank would allow students and families to have greater access to healthy food directly at the school. A weekly food pantry of seasonal food would be provided for 80 families along with nutritional snacks for the students during the school day. Parents would be responsible for organizing an equitable distribution system at the pantry — a responsibility they continue to oversee to this day. The staff from the San Francisco Food Bank also continues to be active partners by providing parents weekly cooking classes and bilingual recipes.These classes and recipes help parents become familiar with foods they are sometimes unaccustomed to preparing. They also have the opportunity to learn how to cook these foods at home — knowledge that increases their cooking confidence and provides their families with a balanced and nutritious diet every day.

Has this community development tool been successful? Only time will tell as it continues to evolve, but we are clearly seeing stronger school community relationships amongst people living and working in the neighborhood, an increased awareness about the school garden project, and improvements made to eating habits and student performance.

In the spring of 2012, the California Department of Education’s learning goal was a five-point academic performance index growth on the California Standards Test. Sanchez students exceeded this goal with 68 points academic progress, more than 13 times the expectation. In science, taking the most recent three-year average, fifth graders at Sanchez performed at the 59 percent proficiency level, just below the average for their peers in SF Unified School District, demonstrating a 62 percent proficiency, just above the state average of 58 percent. Comparing Sanchez School to several elementary schools with similar student populations, the average science proficiency levels at these schools hovered around 25 percent. Sanchez School’s level of science proficiency is impressive given that it is a high-poverty school with a dramatic over representation of students learning English as second language with identified learning disabilities. Sanchez School parents are very supportive of the hands-on approach to learning in an outdoor classroom and view this education as a way for their children to develop science knowledge and healthy eating habits. Our hope is that other school communities adopt a similar tool to raise awareness about the important place that outside education has in the learning process and students’ ability to thrive, because a nutritious and healthy lifestyle is certainly connected to academic learning within green, vibrant spaces.


Dr. Raymond R. Isola is the former principal at Sanchez School Elementary for thirteen years. Currently Dr. Isola is writing a book with Jim Cummins who is professor and lead researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto in Canada. John and Lolita Casazza are current San Francisco Slow Food Board members.


Terra Madre – Parte Seconda

Shakirah at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy
Shakirah at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy

In our last blog post we told you a bit about Terra Madre and Rosie Branson Gill who will be traveling to this global food event. When Rosie mentioned to us that she’ll be accompanied by fellow Slow Food San Francisco member Shakirah Simley, we thought we’d tell you her story as well.

As she explains in her charming blog post on the Bi-Rite Market site, Shakirah is quite the foodie with a passion for all things jam and a more recently acquired love of Italy. Which is quite appropriate as she’ll be returning to this marvelous country for Terra Madre.


Shakirah is the 2010-2011 Fulbright and Casten Family Foundation Scholar to Italy and a recent graduate of the University of Gastronomic Sciences (UNISG) with a Masters in Food Culture and Communications. She spent last year traveling around Italy, “learning about traditional cheese-making in a hut atop the Dolomite mountains …getting schooled by nonnas in the art of making tortelli pasta…and having thoughtful conversations about food sustainability with professors from around the world.”

When asked why she is going to Terra Madre, Shakirah shared:

“Given my background in advocacy and policy, and organizing experience in low-income and communities of color, I’m really concerned with the ‘fair’ part of the Slow Food San Francisco mantra ‘good, clean and fair.’ Given the economy, world food prices, and growing awareness around a sustainable food system, Terra Madre presents a great opportunity for delegates to connect on creating a more equitable food system for all. I’m excited to spur and be a part of those conversations.”

She is looking forward to meeting other like-minded people, hoping that Terra Madra will be an opportunity to connect with other delegates to further the discussion of food justice issues. She is also excited to be returning to Torino, visiting UNISG and catching up with friends and professors. And while she’s at it, she’ll likely take in some of her beloved Italian culinary specialties, including the “consumption of ungodly amounts of cured pork products!”