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Rep. Mark DeSaulnier visits Olympic and Crossroads high schools and Fair Oaks Elementary

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier visits Olympic and Crossroads high schools and Fair Oaks Elementary

When Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) kicked off his "2024 Educational Listening Tour" on Jan. 24th, his first three stops were at MDUSD schools - Crossroads HS for pregnant teens and teenage moms and their children, Olympic Continuation High School, and Fair Oaks Elementary's Growing Healthy Kids Garden!

At Crossroads and Olympic, he toured the campuses and met with teachers and students. "These visits reinforce the importance of our work in Congress  to pass policies that support educators, students and families," he said in a tweet. In her own tweet, Principal Courtney Lyon said the "campus was buzzing" as Rep. DeSaulnier visited the amazing programs directly tailored towards supporting all students. "He was able to meet some of MDUSD’s oldest, youngest (and cutest!) scholars to see why this campus is so special!"

At Fair Oaks, he learned about the school's gardening and sustainability programs and tasted some of the produce students grow. The Growing Healthy Kids nonprofit is an 8-year-old program that gets kids in Mt. Diablo Unified schools outside in campus gardens during the school day to support them in learning core academics in a highly engaging way, says program founder Tamara Helfer, who welcomed Rep. DeSaulnier along with school and district administrators, garden educator Gabriela Gebhart and some of her 3rd grade students. "Along the way, our students are learning lifelong habits to support physical and mental wellness," Helfer says. "This year, we are excited to be serving over 12,000 students in 19+ MDUSD schools," with a special emphasis on those "in areas with food deserts or lack of access to the outdoors."

Rep. DeSaulnier quickly picked up a garden trowel and started digging in the dirt alongside students as they turned the soil to help turn decomposing plants into compost while learning about their nitrogen content. Rep. DeSaulnier said he would like to see garden programs continue to grow "to scale" in Contra Costa County, noting that kids are energized after getting outside and working with their hands. As a former Concord restaurant owner, Rep. DeSaulnier also commented on the "history between gardens and restaurants in Contra Costa County" and then tasted some of the passion fruit growing at Fair Oaks. "It's really wonderful," he said.

Students Lilly McBride and Alycia Hamadi said they take pride in tending the garden so it looks nice. They also love to eat passion fruit, blood oranges and edible flowers from the garden, which they said is like payment for all their hard work! 

Rep. DeSaulnier at MDUSD schools
  • Crossroads HS
  • Fair Oaks Elementary
  • Olympic HS
  • Rep. DeSaulnier