A Fresh Veg Blog

Community Spotlight: Rancho Cielo Youth Campus

by Loree Dowse | February 2018

In previous posts, we’ve talked about Mann Packing’s extensive involvement in our community. From providing warm-bodied volunteers and donating vegetables to writing checks and sitting on boards, in the last year alone we supported over 90 organizations focused primarily on kids, families and health.

In today’s post, I’d like to shine the spotlight on one organization in particular that is near and dear to us: Rancho Cielo Youth Campus.

Rancho Cielo provides comprehensive learning and social services to at-risk youth in Monterey County. Located on a 100-acre historic ranch in Salinas, CA, Rancho Cielo provides its 150 students access to vocational training, mental health counseling, probation case management, job readiness and life skills training, physical activity and connections to health, social and family services.

Students at the Drummond Culinary Academy at Rancho Cielo select fresh produce from the kitchen garden

Mann Packing has been a supporter of Rancho Cielo since 2010, and our involvement with the campus has significantly increased over time. In 2017, we gave almost $65,000 to the non-profit. These funds supported Rancho Cielo’s capital campaign as well as its Culinary Round Up, an annual fundraiser benefitting the Drummond Culinary Academy, one of 5 vocational programs offered there.

We also give our time. Lorri Koster, Mann’s CEO, is a member of the Board of Directors at Rancho Cielo and yours truly has served on the Culinary Round Up committee for the last three years. Our main grower/partner, Mike Costa, also serves on the Board of Directors and is its incoming Chairman. For the last several years, Mike has spearheaded Rancho Cielo’s annual Family Fun Day event by contributing not only his organizational skills but also by donating produce. Lots and lots of produce.

In addition to the Culinary Academy, Rancho Cielo also has a Construction Academy. The Ted Taylor Ag Vocational Center is currently being built.

Typically, only 40% of youths coming out of incarceration manage to steer clear of the law for one year. In comparison, 80% of Rancho Cielo graduates do NOT re-offend in one year. Additionally, while it costs more than $100,000 annually to incarcerate a juvenile in Monterey County, it costs about $10,000 a year to educate him/her at Rancho Cielo. Notice one zero has been removed. That’s major – not to mention the positive impact being made on a human life.

Rancho Cielo culinary students work alongside local chefs at the annual Culinary Round Up, a fundraiser for the Culinary Academy. The next Round Up will take place on February 25th.

“We are incredibly grateful for Mann Packing’s support over the years,” said Susie Brusa, CEO of Rancho Cielo. “They have not only given their time and money, but have hired at least a dozen graduates from our program. Lorri Koster has also been instrumental in shaping the course of the Ted Taylor Ag Vocational Center, which is currently under construction and will soon train Monterey County’s future highly-skilled ag employees.”

Mann’s is proud to support a program that truly transforms the lives of young people in our community.

For more information about Rancho Cielo, please visit their website at www.ranchocieloyc.org.

 

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