11 04 2015
The program’s success demonstrates that we have the power to change our currently flawed food system, one school at a time.
The team at True Nature Botanicals is so inspired by The Conscious Kitchen project that we had to share it with you! We were recently invited to have lunch with the students at MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City, an underserved community located five miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge and 2 miles south of True Nature Botanicals’ Mill Valley headquarters, and we were amazed by what we experienced.
Thanks to the Marin County non-profit Turning Green, a program called The Conscious Kitchen (TCK) was successfully launched two years ago and is challenging our shockingly low national school lunch standards.
The program provides school aged children with sustainably sourced meals prepared on-site. Meals are accompanied by a garden and nutrition curriculum that teaches students where their food comes from, how it’s grown and why it’s good for them. Through this approach, TCK aims to reduce childhood obesity while cultivating young champions of sustainable food.
As a result of its success, TCK has expanded to include Willow Creek Academy, making the Sausalito Marin City School District the nation’s first school district to serve 100% organic and non-GMO meals.
This program is the first to take a stand against GMOs. While the long-term effects of GMOs are still uncertain, a growing body of evidence links them to a variety of health risks and environmental damage. An estimated 80% of items on most supermarket shelves contain GMOs and they are ubiquitous in school food programs.
Sourcing Food From our local farmers market in San Rafael, CA. Photo credit: Turning Green.
When I asked Judi Shils, Founder and Executive Director of Turning Green, how other school districts can replicate this program, Judi replied, “It truly only takes one thing -- Intention. TCK is a big step in the right direction, demonstrating what can be done with intention. If you cook good food grown with ethical standards, and work with your local farmers and purveyors, you care for the children and communities.”
Student helping to serve lunch to his friends as part of the Conscious Kitchen Ambassadors team. Photo credit: 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.” The Conscious Kitchen has the potential to shift the model of institutionalized, school lunch programs. The program’s success demonstrates that we have the power to change our currently flawed food system, one school at a time. If you would like information on how to start a Conscious Kitchen in your community, please visit Turning Green’s website: http://www.teensturninggreen.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/CK-toolkit-v19.pdf