Sausalito Marin City School District in California is paving the way for healthy school lunches. The district has announced that it is proud to be the first school district in the United States to provide 100 percent organic, GMO-free lunches to students.
Along with being organic and free of GMOs, the lunches are made from 90 percent locally sourced ingredients. Through various courses and initiatives, the schools in the district are also teaching kids to have a more personal, conscientious relationship with their food.
According to the district’s superintendent, Steve Van Zant, the effects of this change on students have been remarkable. He reports:
“The results speak for themselves. 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.”
School counselor Julie Auslander stated:
“I feel like the kids are trying food, and fruits and vegetables, that they’ve never even seen before in their lives, so it’s really exposing them to a whole new palette.”
This organic initiative started in Sausalito Marin City School District in 2013, through a partnership with the nonprofit organization, Turning Green. Known as the Conscious Kitchen, the program does more than provide fresh, healthy, organic meals. Students are able to work with the school’s chefs to offer feedback, help develop menus, and learn important cooking skills. Gardening classes are taught, so students get to grow their own food, and see it go from the soil to the table. Nutrition programs are also offered, so kids learn how to properly nourish their bodies.
All of this helps kids to really understand food. School chefs even personally explain their menus to students at the table, where freshly cut flowers are often placed. Judi Shils, the director of Turning Green, stated:
“It’s literally the best we can get, that’s the starting point. This is how we can begin to start making bodies healthy and minds healthy.”
This sounds like school lunch heaven, especially compared to the sad fact that many kids around the nation still have to reluctantly slurp down processed, overcooked, freezer-burned foods, made with no care, and with no involvement from the students.
We recently reported on a campaign by students at Chicago’s Theodore Roosevelt High School. The students have been posting photos of their food online, and comparing it with “prison meals.” Based on the photos, the food is indeed gray, processed and utterly unappetizing: a far cry from the fresh, local produce enjoyed by Sausalito Marin City kids. It’s an utterly disgusting and unacceptable way for children, who have developing bodies and minds, to eat.
On the organic lunch program in Sausalito Marin City School District, Tenisha Tate, the vice principal of Bayside MLK Jr. Academy, one of the schools in the district, said:
“It’s changed the way we feed our kids, and it’s love.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the entire nation fed children this way? Sausalito Marin City School District has proven that it’s possible, and that it can have wonderful results. Not only will providing whole, organic food make our kids healthier, it will also teach them healthy habits for life — for the significant benefit of future generations.
Tanya is a writer at The Alternative Daily with a passion for meditation, music, poetry, martial arts, and overall creative and active living. She has a special interest in exploring traditional Eastern remedies and superfoods from around the globe. Currently, she and her son live in Wisconsin, where they enjoy spending time immersed in nature.