Meet the Nation’s First School District to Serve 100% Organic Meals

“This program successfully disrupts the cycle of unhealthy, pre-packaged, heat and serve meals that dominate school kitchens.”

When schools in California’s Sausalito Marin City District return to session this August, they will be the first in the nation to serve their students 100 percent organic meals, sustainably sourced and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

More than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito will eat fresh, local food year-round, thanks to a partnership with the Conscious Kitchen, a project of the environmental education nonprofit Turning Green.

“Students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins,” Turning Green founder Judi Shils said on Tuesday. “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.”

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According to the organization, they will also serve the gardening education along with the healthy meals. Previously, they served organics at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy, where they originally tested this program in 2013. They keep serving the organics for two years and then checked the records. The founders said that they have seen an improvement in attendance along with a decline in disciplinary cases.

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Furthermore, the initiative will try to address the issue of GMOs. As environmental news outlet EcoWatch reports:

This is the first initiative to address the GMOs. Most of the studies link the GMOs with various environmental damage and health risks, but its long-term effects are still unclear. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the available products in supermarkets are GMO’s and certainly they are coming to the schools.

The nutritional experts have concluded that food has a great impact on the children’s abilities and long-term health. According to the 2010 Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act, the schools in the United States need to meet the new USDA nutritional standards. They also need to serve whole wheat products along with fresh veggies and fruits. The act applies on the schools who provides their students with school lunches.

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But as the Berkeley-based nutritional nonprofit The Edible Schoolyard Project explains, it is equally important to prioritize food education.

“Schools that incorporate an integrated approach to edible education—combining local, seasonal food procurement strategies with hands-on lessons taught in the classroom, kitchen, and garden—are far more likely to sustain healthy school meal initiatives,” said Liza Siegler, the organization’s head of partnerships and engagement.

As Justin Everett, consulting chef with the Conscious Kitchen, explained on Tuesday, “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.”

Read original article here: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/08/19/meet-nations-first-school-district-serve-100-organic-meals

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