Nation’s first school district to serve only organic and non-gmo meals
Sausalito Marin City School District and Turning Green set a new standard
Sausalito, CA – August 17. Sausalito Marin City School District will be the first ever 100 percent organic and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) school district in the country. More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy (in Marin City with Conscious Kitchen Executive Chef Shaun Dayton) and Willow Creek Academy (in Sausalito with Head Chef Guillaume Pfahl) will eat sustainably sourced meals prepared on-site through a program called The Conscious Kitchen. The programs both get under way with the first day of school on August 27th.
Sausalito-based nonprofit Turning Green launched The Conscious Kitchen pilot program in August 2013 in partnership with Justin Everett, Executive Chef of 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, a low-income community located five miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. In two years, the program resulted in a steep decrease in disciplinary cases, increased attendance and a greater sense of community. As a result of this success, The Conscious Kitchen will expand to serve Willow Creek Academy (with local supporting chef, Tera Ancona of Cibo Sausalito), the second school in the Sausalito Marin City School District beginning August 2015.
“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.”
The Conscious Kitchen rethinks school food based on five foundational terms: Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal, and Non-GMO.. All food is organic and non-GMO, and more than 90 percent of all produce is sourced from local farmers and purveyors.
“USDA nutritional standards do not prioritize organic and non-GMO food, and as a result, students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins,” said Judi Shils, founder and Executive Director of Turning Green. “Not only does this program far exceed USDA nutritional standards, but it ties the health of our children to the health of our planet. It’s the first program to say that fundamentally, you cannot have one without the other.”
This program is the first to take a stand against GMOs, or genetically modified organisms. While the long-term effects of GMOs are still uncertain, a growing body of evidence links GMOs to a variety of health risks and environmental damage. An estimated 80 percent of items on most supermarket shelves contain GMOs, and thus they are ubiquitous in school food programs.
“Most people don’t realize that GMOs are everywhere, especially in processed foods. By embracing fresh, local, organic, non-GMO food, this program successfully disrupts the cycle of unhealthy, pre-packaged, heat and serve meals that dominate school kitchens,” said Justin Everett, Executive Chef, Cavallo Point Lodge, who serves as the consulting chef for The Conscious Kitchen.
Meals are accompanied by a garden and nutrition curriculum that teaches students about where their food comes from, how it’s grown and why it’s good for them. Through this approach, The Conscious Kitchen aims to mitigate childhood obesity while cultivating young champions of sustainable food.
The Conscious Kitchen is supported and inspired by many partners
Corporate: Cavallo Point Lodge, Acure, Amy’s Kitchen, Orchard Supply Hardware, Post Ranch Inn, Marin County Board of Supervisors, Suja, Whole Foods Market, EO Products, Good Earth Natural Foods, Klean Kanteen, Numi, Nutiva, The Container Store
Foundations: The Good Night Foundation, The California Endowment, Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut, Marin Community Foundation, Tides, The Milagro Foundation, The Christopher Reynolds Foundation, DeMund Family Foundation, Fred Gellert Family Foundation, United Natural Food Inc., USDA, Western Growers, Whole Kids Foundation
Non-Profit: Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, Fair Trade USA, Friends of the Earth, The Lexicon of Sustainability, Grace Communications Foundation, Non GMO Project, The Organic Center
In-Kind: Balakian Farms, Bio Bag, Eco Lunch Box, Full Circle Home. Hain Celestial, Hobart Corporation, Santa Cruz Community Farmers' Market, Lundberg Family Farms, RW Garcia, Sausalito Lions Club, Skoy, Star Route Farms, Tomatero Farm, TriMark, U•Konserve, The Urban Farmer Store, Straus Family Creamery