By Verbal Adam | OBSERVER Correspondent

Rep. Doris Matsui presented a check for $1.05 million to the students and faculty of Leataata Floyd Elementary April 12 to fund the expansion of the school’s food literacy center. The funds will be used to develop the one-acre Floyd Farm on the center’s grounds.

“My mother had a small vegetable garden,” Matsui told students and educators. “I remember her giving me the first carrot of the season and it was so sweet. And the radishes and smelling the parsley, it awakened the senses.

“I really believe that when young people learn about this at an early age and experience what it feels like getting your hands messy in the soil, it really does change something in them. Now, what we’re trying to do here is to ensure that young people who never get that opportunity, have that opportunity.”

Food literacy is understanding the impact of food choices on health, environment and economy. The school’s food literacy center teaches cooking, nutrition and gardening to students in low-income, inner-city Sacramento schools. It also has a food literacy program for adults. The valuable life skills learned in programs such as these can last a lifetime and are largely unavailable in urban areas that lack the necessary land for farming and community members with farming experience.

“What a wonderful opportunity for students in an urban center like Sacramento to be able to experience what some of us experience in more rural parts of the state,” Jorge Aguilar, Sacramento City Unified School District superintendent, told The OBSERVER.  “There’s values that land inculcates in us that help us for our entire lifetime.”

With new federal funding, the food literacy center will continue to serve low-income families and provide more opportunities for community engagement and community education. “When we take care of our children, we take care of our community,” SCUSD School Board President Chinua Rhodes told The OBSERVER. “We take care of our city, we take care of our country because they’re going to be the leaders of the world. And we want to make sure we provide them the tools they need. And this is what we’re doing here.”

Support for this Sacramento OBSERVER article was provided to Word In Black (WIB) by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. WIB is a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media that includes print and digital partners.