Episode 199 - Emelia Miguel, “Food-Lab ‘The Kitchen Classroom,’ an Alternative Classroom for Learning”
September 7, 2017
Emelia Miguel, known as Ms. Emelia to her students, is the Food Service Director at Pacific Elementary School in Davenport, California. Along with the responsibilities as Food Service Director, Emelia is in charge of the world-renowned, award-winning FoodLab program. This program brings 5th and 6th grade students into the kitchen classroom where they learn knife and life skills. Founded 34 years ago by Stephanie Raugust, this program is the heart of this rural school. Emelia worked side by side with Mrs. Raugust from 2007-2013 learning the techniques and skills needed to teach 11- and 12-year-olds how to cook school lunch for approximately 100 people each day. For the last four years, with the help of two other food service staff, Emelia has raised the participation rate of this National School Lunch Program to 79%, with only a 37% Free and Reduced Lunch rate at the school. In order to fund FoodLab, Emelia raises almost $10,000 annually at an incredible Farm-to-Table dinner. Other revenue for the program is generated through federal and state reimbursements and the sale of lunches to parents and guests. When not cooking with the students, Emelia can be found testing out recipes at home with her family, still loving the kitchen in her time off. Once the meal is over, Emelia also enjoys reading historical fiction, snowboarding, and road trips.