When I heard about the first school in the United States to serve 100% organic, gmo-free lunches, I thought, of course Marin. Marin County, California is very affluent. There are many organic restaurants. There’s even organic gelato in Mill Valley.
My assumptions were wrong. The Sausalito Marin City School District is not affluent. 77% of the students participate in the free and reduced lunch program. http://www.zillow.com/ca/districts/sausalito-marin-city-school-district-429242/ Fortunately for these kids, their subsidized meals are 100% organic and gmo-free.
I worked in a public schools for over 13 years. We were constantly trying to improve school lunches. It was a struggle. The administration always had excuses. Just how did Sausalito Marin City School District do it? With help of course! Nation of Change explains:
That’s right: More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy (Marin City) and Willow Creek Academy (Sausalito) in Marin County, California, will eat sustainably sourced meals this year, all prepared on-site through The Conscious Kitchen.
Turning Green launched The Conscious Kitchen pilot program in August 2013 together with Cavallo Point Lodge, the Sausalito Marin City School District, Whole Foods Market and Good Earth Natural Foods. The pilot served 156 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City, California. In two years, the program saw a steep decrease in disciplinary cases, increased attendance and a greater sense of community. Now, The Conscious Kitchen is expanding to serve Willow Creek Academy, the other school in the Sausalito Marin City School District.http://www.nationofchange.org/2015/08/19/nations-first-school-district-to-serve-100-percent-organic-non-gmo-meals/
The Conscious Kitchen has established five criteria for school meals:
All produce is purchased within six days of being served, and all meals are prepared fresh daily in an on-site kitchen. Hands-on gardening classes, when offered, help students form an immediate connection to their food.
Food tastes best and has the highest nutritional value when it travels straight from farm to fork. We use no processed, preserved or frozen ingredients. By feeding students fresh produce, they avoid consuming harmful chemicals and preservatives.
More than 90% of produce, 100% of meat and 75% of grain comes from within 100 miles of each Conscious Kitchen site. Produce is purchased direct from farmers at the local farmer’s market.
The average American meal travels an estimated 1500 miles before consumption. The Conscious Kitchen counteracts this by working with local farmers, chefs, purveyors and businesses. By introducing students to food grown in their communities they develop a deeper understanding of how, where and by whom their food is grown.
All ingredients are organic, with absolutely no exceptions.
To be certified organic, a farmer must avoid using anything that might harm air, water or soil, including synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic food puts human health first, and supports farmers and businesses that do the same.
Meals emphasize produce that is in season. This reduces food miles as well as cost, and introduces students to exciting new flavors.
Buying in season lessens the environmental damage caused by shipping and importing foods. Highlighting seasonal ingredients lowers food costs, adds variety to school meals, and fosters appreciation of seasonal flavors.
A commitment to using only ingredients that are not genetically modified. We believe The Conscious Kitchen is the only 100% organic/non-GMO school food program in the country.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have yet to be deemed safe for humans or the environment, yet they are ubiquitous in today’s food. In the United States, companies are not required to label items that contain GMOs.
*Indicates a no-exceptions rule http://www.theconscious.kitchen/criteria.html
What amazes me most about this program between the Conscious Kitchen and Sausalito Marin City School District are the results!
“The results speak for themselves,” said Steve Van Zant, superintendent, Sausalito Marin City School District. “Since launching the pilot at Bayside MLK Academy in 2013, students are eating real food for breakfast and lunch, discipline cases have dropped dramatically, attendance has improved, food waste is down, and students and teachers sharing of meals has led to improved manners and open communication, greatly enhancing the school community.”http://www.smcsd.org
What school doesn’t want improved attendance and reduced discipline cases! These 500 kids are so lucky!