Gold Coast Packing, a grower, shipper and processor of fresh produce, has launched its first after-school program, Fantastic Fridays, to bring fresh vegetables to children throughout the Santa Maria Valley in California.
On Fantastic Fridays, Gold Coast personally delivers on average 200 to 250 pounds of fresh produce to schools in the Santa Maria Bonita School District and the Guadalupe Union School District. Along with leaving enough produce for the children to take home, Gold Coast shares vegetable trivia to educate the students on how crops such as broccoli and cauliflower are grown locally in the Santa Maria area.
“Our goal for this program is to get fresh vegetables directly into kid’s hands, and we wanted to do it before the weekend to ensure they could take product home and share with their family,” said Crystal Chavez, marketing coordinator at Gold Coast Packing. “We understand not every child has access to fresh produce at home, so we hope that through Fantastic Fridays, we are able to give kids healthy options that will lead to a healthier lifestyle as they grow.”
With support from the local YMCA and Boys & Girls Club, Gold Coast has visited nine school sites within the two school districts, donated 1,434 pounds of fresh vegetables and shared fresh produce education with nearly 800 students since the Fantastic Fridays program began in November 2019.
“It is great to see the kids so excited to learn about the products that are grown right here in Santa Maria,” said Chavez. “They see the fields all across the valley, so to be able to educate students about how the most common produce items are grown and how it gets from the field to their school salad bar or their own dinner table is awesome!”
While only four months into the after-school program, Gold Coast plans to continue Fantastic Fridays for years to come and roll out several programs with the local Boys & Girls Club and YMCA during the summer months.