Growing Foodwise Kids and Families: How You Can Nurture the Next Generation of Healthy Eaters

December 8, 2023

Like you, Foodwise believes all kids should have access to fresh, healthy food and feel that they have agency in their food choices. When you donate to Foodwise, you are supporting free food education for thousands of SFUSD students, so they can experience the joys of the farmers market and grow up engaged in their food community.

Foodwise Kids & Families is a free program for San Francisco elementary school students that uses the farmers market as a classroom for empowering the next generation of healthy eaters. Each year, Foodwise serves about 3,000 students and adults through field trips to the farmers market, on-site cooking classes, and family cook nights.

In this new video from Foodwise, kids, parents, educators, and farmers share why it’s important to nurture children’s love for fruits and vegetables, teach them essential cooking skills, and raise their awareness about their role in a sustainable food system.

“Often in San Francisco, it feels like farmers markets are only for a few people who are informed or have the right access,” says Julia Schorr-Sherer, a first-grade bilingual Spanish teacher at Sanchez Elementary School in San Francisco’s Mission District. “Foodwise Kids brought much more inclusivity and access from a really early age, having first-graders understand that the city has all of these markets that are accessible to them.”

Since the Foodwise Kids program launched in fall of 2012, more than 20,000 students from local public elementary schools have participated. Foodwise prioritizes classes that have higher percentages of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students and students who qualify for free and reduced-price lunch.

This year, Foodwise is facing a funding shortfall, yet we remain deeply committed to meeting the needs of our student community. We need your support to bridge the funding gap, so we can continue to serve San Francisco kids and families with vital nutrition and wellness education in 2024. 

During Foodwise Kids field trips, the farmers market becomes a dynamic classroom where students can explore the seasonal harvest and meet the farmers who grow their food. “I think it’s important for kids to visit the farmers market because you learn a lot of stuff about fruits and vegetables by asking the farmers,” says Foodwise Kids participant Eleanor.

Studies show that kids often need to taste new foods 6 to 15 times before they start to build new eating preferences and habits. As kids explore the market together, they decide what fruits and vegetables to try and learn that making healthy choices can be fun. 

Their curiosity and open-mindedness is nurtured when trying something unfamiliar turns into discovering a newfound favorite vegetable. “Something I learned today was that we have to try new things every day,” says Derrick, another Foodwise Kid. “If you haven’t even tried the thing, why are you yucking it?”

Farmer Sonia Rojas shares citrus samples with Foodwise Kids participants.
Farmer Sonia Rojas shares citrus samples with Foodwise kids at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.

During the field trip, students also make connections with their local food community, including farmers. Sonia Rojas, farmer at Rojas Family Farms, says, “Creo los niños estan aprendiendo buenos hábitos para comer y también estan aprendiendo de donde viene el producto…Es lo mas importante los niños tengan buenas salud y es un lugar donde pueden comprar comida saludable.” (“I think children are learning good eating habits and they are also learning where the product comes from…That’s is the most important thing, that children have good health, and know there is a place where they can buy healthy food.”)

Foodwise Kids & Families programming nurtures a sense of belonging for San Francisco and Bay Area youth, from seeding a love for fresh food at the farmers market to developing essential kitchen skills during an in-class cooking lesson. Some students also participate in a family cook night, where they create a nourishing meal with their families and friends, and build cooking confidence together in community.

“We really want to empower the next generation of healthy eaters,” says Foodwise Kids Education Manager Nesley Rojo. “We also really want to empower students to feel like their decisions matter. Every kid has a right to food access, especially healthy and nutritious and local food.”

Nourish and Sustain Foodwise Kids & Families

Join Foodwise in investing in the next generation of healthy eaters. Help us offer free nutrition and wellness education to San Francisco kids and families at the farmers market and beyond. Donate today to help us reach our year-end goal of $60,000, so we can continue to offer critical food education to SFUSD students in the New Year.

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