The Rawitch sisters were specifically commended for conducting nutrition research, creating and conducting student surveys, garnering family and adult support, and for being part of an adult group that presented the need for improving school lunches to the school board, said superintendent Barry Barnhart.

The Mount Shasta Union School District board at their last meeting on Oct. 9 honored Maya and Ella Rawitch for their work in bringing salad bars to Sisson and Mount Shasta Elementary School.

The Rawitch sisters were specifically commended for conducting nutrition research, creating and conducting student surveys, garnering family and adult support, and for being part of an adult group that presented the need for improving school lunches to the school board, said superintendent Barry Barnhart.

With the creation of the Mt. Shasta School CAFE, Maya and Ella, who are now both Mount Shasta High School students, collaborated with parents, Barnhart, board trustees, and community partners. The CAFE committee created numerous events, which the sisters helped to be successful through their dedicated efforts.

The girls’ vision and leadership were instrumental in the creation of an after-school student CAFE Club at Sisson to raise student appreciation and awareness of nutritious foods, said Barnhart.

Ella and Maya spoke to farmers at the Mount Shasta’s Farmers Market to determine if there was interest in involvement in a Farm-to-School program, said Barnhart.

“The founders of the market were so impressed, they offered to do a raffle, as they wanted to support the full vision of the School CAFE which includes eventually serving organic, locally grown foods to students,” Barnhart said.

The girls helped to raise more than $8,500 to benefit students eating school meals. This seed money helped in establishing our salad bar-based school lunch program this year, Barnhart said.

Previously, MSUSD contracted with the Weed Elementary Union School District to provide school lunches, and those meals had to be prepared early and driven in a van to Mount Shasta Elementary and Sisson schools.

“While we were grateful for the neighboring district’s help, this was a less-than-ideal situation that often affected how appealing the meals were,” said Barnhart. “Vegetables would be limp and over-cooked as a result of being kept at a safe serving temperature for a half-hour or more.”

Because of Maya and other members of Mt. Shasta School CAFE, MSUSD was able to buy two salad bars which allowed the schools to start their own salad-bar based school lunch program.

“We now prepare the lunches within the district, and the food is fresher, more appealing, and we have the ability to grow our own food services program from here,” said Barnhart. “As we grow our program and continue to innovate, their efforts will impact thousands more students to come. We wish them all the best in their future endeavors and communicate our heartfelt thanks for a job well done.”