Weekly roundup: OCDE’s ACCESS addresses food insecurity with farmers market, OC students surpass state averages, and more

Argosy farmers market volunteers

Families and students from the Orange County Department of Education’s Alternative Education division — also known as ACCESS — were invited on Oct. 13 to a farmers market at its site in Orange, where they had the opportunity to select foods for their specific households, all free of charge.

Held in partnership with its longtime supporter, Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, the event drew more than 110 people to the school site to receive fresh fruits and produce and other meal staples.

ACCESS free food market

“ACCESS is about building relationships with our students and families,” ACCESS Area 3 Principal Ruth Ramirez said. “Providing essential resources like food and hygiene items helps our students and families feel connected to our school. Research shows that when students and families are connected to the school, good behavior, attendance and grades increase.”

The farmers market, free for families with ACCESS students, was staffed by OCDE’s Title I Programs unit employees, ACCESS staff and teachers, and student volunteers.

Over the years, the Alternative Education division has found ways to address food insecurity and access to healthier options through drive-through food drives and supply distribution centers. The demand from each campus underscored the pressing need for a long-term approach.

The department opened a permanent pantry at an ACCESS site in San Juan Capistrano through a partnership with Second Harvest in May 2022. In the first year after it was established, the space had distributed more than 110,000 pounds of free food to over 15,000 people, or nearly 3,000 households.

Here are the other stories we’ve been following this week:

  • Orange County’s 29 districts and charter schools outperformed six neighboring counties across all grade levels, according to data from the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress results.
  • The Garden Grove Unified School District’s efforts in deploying teacher coaches and implementing extended-learning programs showed in the Smarter Balanced test results, according to EdSource.
OCDE's Crisis Response Network
  • Fox 11 News’ morning show invited Jennifer Jackson, a principal from the Lowell Joint School District, for a sit-down interview as she was only one of 16 in the country to be included in the Extraordinary Educators Leadership Collaborative.
  • The Ocean View School District Board of Trustees will consider school closure decisions based on recommendations from Superintendent Michael Conroy’s School Task Force, which concluded its deliberations after meeting 11 times.
  • The Orange County Registrar of Voters confirmed this week that supporters of removing two Orange Unified School Board members had gathered more than enough signatures to force a recall election, according to The Voice of OC.
  • A Sage Oak Charter High School alumna was awarded the 18 Under 18 Award by the National Society of High School Scholars. The scholarship recognizes young leaders who spread positivity in their communities.
  • A former Magnolia School District employee has been arrested and charged with embezzling millions of dollars over a seven-year period. The district, which has filed a lawsuit, says it will “aggressively pursue all options to recover funds.”
  • After giving students the opportunity to speak first during public comment, the Capistrano Unified School District Board of Education voted 4-2 to reject a proposal for a parental notification policy.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates and following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.