California State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson powers a bicycle blender to make smoothies for children at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe.

California State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson powers a bicycle blender to make smoothies for children at Mary Buren Elementary School in Guadalupe.

by Kirsten Criswell

Food Day inspires Americans to change our diets and our food policies. Every October 24, thousands of events all around the country bring Americans together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. Local schools have been celebrating Food Day to help them build cultures of health and wellness on campus and in their communities. Below are images from Food Day in Santa Barbara County.

Guadalupe got the whole town involved in Food Day!

Guadalupe got the whole town involved in Food Day!

Serving scratch-cooked Posole in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.

Serving scratch-cooked Posole in the Santa Maria-Bonita School District.

At Monroe Elementary, Spencer the Gardener and Chef Claud Mann extolled the virtues of Persimmons.

At Monroe Elementary, Spencer the Gardener and Chef Claud Mann extolled the virtues of Persimmons.

Scratch-Cooking at Cabrillo High School in the Lompoc District.

Scratch-Cooking at Cabrillo High School in the Lompoc District.

At Monroe Elementary, Chef Claud Mann used this display to help kids understand how delicious persimmons are also nutritious.

At Monroe Elementary, Chef Claud Mann used this display to help kids understand how delicious persimmons are also nutritious.

Guadalupe Union School District Food Service Department, headed by Matt Dwyer, brought together numerous community partners, including Dignity Heath Central Coast, Santa Barbara Public Health Department, Apio, Community Heath Centers, Thrive Guadalupe, Babe Farms, Gold Coast Farms and the Orfalea Foundation for a District-wide celebration.  Apples were the theme of the day to celebrate Harvest of the Month; apple tastings were hosted in the school garden, apples served for lunch, several different apple recipes provided by community partners were available for students and their families to taste.  Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson visited Mary Buren Elementary to support Food Day.

Mary Buren Elementary Principal Jesely Alvarez joins her students for Food Day activities.

Mary Buren Elementary Principal Jesely Alvarez joins her students for Food Day activities.

Kevin from Apio kept challenging kids to do push-ups with him - after eating their vegetables, of course!

Kevin from Apio kept challenging kids from Mary Buren Elementary to do push-ups with him – after eating their vegetables, of course!

Food Day also promotes activity. Here, students from Mary Buren Elementary in Guadalupe participate in Zumba!

Food Day also promotes activity. Here, students from Mary Buren Elementary in Guadalupe participate in Zumba!

Kids weren't the only ones enjoying Zumba - note State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson in the background.

Kids weren’t the only ones enjoying Zumba on Food Day – State Senator Hannah Beth Jackson joined the fun.

Fresh, clean water is perhaps the greatest of all foods, and thanks to Community Environmental Council and Vapur, students have access to this hydration station.

Fresh, clean water is essential to good health, and thanks to Community Environmental Council and Vapur, students at Mary Buren Elementary have access to this hydration station.

Everyone loves the bicycle blender.

Everyone loves the bicycle blender. Well, almost everyone. It can be pretty hard to pedal at first.

Kirsten Criswell is a Chef Instructor with Orfalea Foundation’s School Food Initiative.