Retired food director completes sugary ride for non-profit

Good News Notes:

Most people would celebrate their retirement after 40 years of service by maybe playing a round of golf or packing for a long cruise, but Miguel Villarreal kicked his off by riding to the top of Mt. Diablo with 10 pounds of sugar strapped to his bike.

It was all for a good cause. The sugar represents how much of the sweet stuff a student could eat in an academic year at the school cafeteria. And Sunday morning’s ride itself was to raise money to help fund a program — Eat REAL — that encourages healthier choices and helps schools meet nutritional standards.

The Bay Area nonprofit says every $10 donated to the ride will eliminate 10 pounds of sugar from the menu, and will help it to expand the program to more schools. There is a waiting list of 150 schools in seven districts throughout the state wanting to participate.

Two Bay Area school districts already are in the program. Mt. Diablo Unified School District has achieved certification and Vacaville Unified School District is working toward certification, Eat REAL’s Violet Batcha said. The money from the “bike-raiser” will go toward expanding the program to the schools on the waiting list.

Mt. Diablo Unified School District’s Food and Nutrition Services is classified at the “Green level” for their onsite programs. The district has worked hard to remove more than 10 pounds of added sugar per student per year, increasing sustainable ingredient sourcing, and increasing the quality of ingredients while removing harmful ones across all of its regular menus.

Villarreal is an Eat REAL board member and spent his 40-year career as a public school food service director. He also is the son of migrant farm workers who relied heavily on school meals when growing up. The ride was personal for him, telling observers that while the bike up the mountain was arduous on a hot day, it was nothing compared with what students go through to get a healthy meal….”

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