Most people would celebrate their retirement after 40 years of service, perhaps by playing a round of golf or packing for a longer cruise, but Miguel Villarreal got his start aboard the top of Mt. Diablo was tied to his bike with 10 pounds of sugar.
It was all for a good reason. Sugar refers to the number of sweets a student can eat in the school cafeteria in an academic year. And the Sunday morning ride itself was to help raise money for an event – eat real It encourages healthy choices and helps schools meet nutritional standards.
The Bay Area nonprofit says every $10 donated to the rides will eliminate 10 pounds of sugar from the menu, and help it expand the program to more schools. There is a waiting list of 150 schools from seven districts across the state willing to participate.
Two Bay Area school districts are already in the program. Violet Bach of Mount Eat Real said that the Diablo Unified School District has achieved certification and Vacville is working towards Unified School District certification. The money from the “bike-razors” will go to expanding the program to waiting-listed schools.
The Mount Diablo Unified School District’s food and nutrition services are classified at a “green level” for their onsite programs. The district has worked hard to remove more than 10 pounds of added sugar per student per year, increase sustainable ingredients sourcing, and increase the quality of ingredients while removing harmful ones from all of its regular menus.
Villarreal is a member of the Eat Real board and spent his 40-year career as public school food service director. He is also the son of migrant agricultural workers who grew up heavily dependent on school meals. The ride was personal to him, telling supervisors that mountain biking was tough on a hot day, but it was nothing compared to what the students went through to get healthy food.
Eat Real CEO Nora Latore says: Villarreal is an inspiration. They raised nearly $5,000 for the nonprofit, which is now asking others to donate to their GoFundMe, Eatreal.org/bikeraiser, with its own dedicated ride.
Eat Real was founded in 2012 and has focused on improving school meals since 2019. Participating schools are used and given a rating on how healthy their meals are. The group then works with schools to find ways to eliminate sugar and other poor nutrition offerings, and with districts and vendors to find better alternatives.
Her sweet ride to Villarreal was joined by fellow board members, Andrew Dietz of Corte Madera, and Julie Rapoport of Mountain View.