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Manzo students to eat school-grown produce for lunch

Posted November 21, 2014

When Moses Thompson, school garden program coordinator, asked the children of Manzo Elementary School who was ready to eat some salad, nearly every hand shot in the air. The children of Manzo like their produce. And it truly is their produce, grown one courtyard over in an expansive garden the students work in every day.

Now, that produce--the lettuce, the carrots, the peppers, the herbs--will be used in their lunches. Manzo is the first school in Pima County to earn a Health Department Certification that allows school-grown food to be served in the cafeteria.

This is quite an accomplishment. In fact, it took over a year to complete. On Thursday, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, TUSD Superintendent H.T. Sánchez, Dr. Francisco Garcia, chief medical officer, John Paul Jones III, dean of the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and other partners, including the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, celebrated the certification.

Dr. Sánchez praised the students and partners for their efforts in the garden. "You're setting the example not just in our town but in our state," he said. He encouraged the children to keep being leaders and thanked them for being a "very, very bright shining light in Tucson and Arizona."

Georgina Caro, a fifth-grader, said the garden program at Manzo is important to her and her friends. As she led tours of the grounds, she said, "It helps me want to come to school and learn and build things."

Kyesha Villa, a fourth-grader who gave a speech at the celebration told the audience, "It makes me feel excited and proud that the students who work so hard get to eat the food they grew in the cafeteria."

Her father, Chris Lemons, said Kyesha's learning doesn't stop at school. "She brings all the stuff she learns home," he said. "She grows things at home and makes her own little salads."

Mr. Lemons says she has made him eat healthier foods, something he was reluctant at first to do.

"I can't say no to my daughter," he said.

For more information, please call 591-2241.
 Photo of students
Moses Thompson, formerly a counselor at Manzo, is now UA-TUSD Community and School Garden Program Coordinator. He spearheaded the effort to obtain certification.
 Photo of salad
Guests got the chance to taste greens grown at Manzo. Manzo students grow a variety of lettuces that will be used in salads.
 Photo of students
Lelani Gonzalez, Kyesha Villa and Georgina Caro are proud of their garden and enjoy
working in it.
 Photo of students
Dr. H.T. Sánchez encouraged Manzo students to continue being leaders.