Sacramento State student-farmers are growing vegetables and herbs for the sold-out Sac State Farm-to-Fork Dinner on the Guy West Bridge on Wednesday, Sept. 13.
Students also helped plan the three-course menu. Students will cook the meal under the supervision of a professional chef. Students will serve the buffet dinner to 184 guests. And, students will clean up after everyone has gone.
The student involvement makes Sac State’s bridge dinner unique in the city that bills itself as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital” and hosts a multitude of related events, including the Sept. 24 Tower Bridge Dinner.
“It’s all about students helping students,” says Professor Kelly Thompson, whose Food Production & Sustainability students are tending the vegetable garden at the BAC (Bioconversion and Agricultural Collaborative) Yard on the campus' south end.
The theme for the $75-a-plate Dinner on the Guy West Bridge, which sold out in less than an hour, is “The Hands that Feed Us.” Proceeds go to Sac State’s CAMP (College Assistance Migrant Program), which supports students with a migrant or seasonal farmworker background. Almost all are the first in their family to attend college.
CAMP students will be seated at each table to share their life story with diners.
"As a student host at last year's farm-to-fork dinner, I had the opportunity to put a face on students facing food insecurity and to start a conversation with dinner guests," says Alexandra Byrd, who helped plan the 2017 event. "This year, our student hosts from CAMP will start their own conversations about the hands that feed us."
The gala dinner high above the American River is the culmination of a daylong, campuswide celebration of the region’s seasonal food bounty and sustainable lifestyle. The following activities are free and open to the public:
- Sac State Farm-to-Fork Festival – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., University Library Quad. Highlights include cooking demonstrations, an aquaponics exhibit from STORC (the Sustainable Technology Outdoor/Optimization Research Center), food trucks, free samples from Chili Smith Family Foods, which is providing Peruvian Christmas lima beans for the bridge dinner, and various community agencies.
- The Harvest (La Cosecha) – 3 to 5:15 p.m., University Union, Hinde Auditorium. The 2011 documentary reveals the difficult lives of children who work long hours in U.S. farm fields without the protection of child labor laws. A panel discussion will follow the screening.
- Keynote speaker David Bacon – 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Guy West Plaza. The photojournalist has written several books about immigration, including In the Fields of the North (En los Campos del Norte.) He was once a factory worker and union organizer for groups such as the United Farm Workers. His topic for the evening is "The Pacific Coast Farm Worker Rebellion."
Bacon will be among the special guests at the bridge dinner, which showcases produce grown on the Sac State campus: corn, watermelon, tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash, red and orange bell peppers, mint, rosemary, and sage (BAC Yard); basil, parsley, and chives (STORC); and honey (Capital Public Radio’s garden.)
The student chefs will be guided by Aaron Franco, University Enterprises Inc. (UEI) executive chef, and his staff at Sac State's Epicure restaurant.
The Guy West Bridge Dinner menu:
Watermelon, feta and arugula salad
Herb-roasted chicken in lemon-cream sauce
Caprese-stuffed Portobello mushrooms (vegetarian)
Herb-roasted red potatoes
Autumn vegetable succotash
Salted-caramel apple tart
Wine and iced tea
The inaugural Sac State Farm-to-Fork Dinner on the Guy West Bridge, in 2016, raised nearly $3,000 for the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) campus food pantry. This year’s beneficiary, CAMP, supports approximately 70 underserved students each year, easing their transition from high school to the University.
“CAMP students face financial barriers related to their migratory farmworker background,” says Viridiana Diaz, CAMP director. “Family income is often below the poverty level, leaving CAMP students with the need to work long hours to supplement college-related expenses. Scholarships allow students to work less and to focus more on their studies. Scholarships also contribute to their well-being and increase their probability of graduating in four years from Sacramento State.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Sac State Farm-to-Fork to generate more scholarships for our students,” Diaz says.
Sponsoring Sac State’s 2017 Farm-to-Fork celebration are Raley's Supermarkets, Capital Public Radio, SMUD, Muddy Boot Wine, Sacramento City Councilman Jeff Harris, and the Ayad al-Qazzaz Endowment and the Department of Sociology within the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies. – Dixie Reid