Schools in California’s Sausalito Marin County District will be the first in the nation to serve their students 100% organic meals, sustainably sourced and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
As EcoWatch reports, more than 500 students at Bayside MLK Jr. Academy (Marin City) and Willow Creek Academy (Sausalito) in Marin County, California, will eat nutritious, sustainably-grown meals year-round. Thanks to a partnership with The Conscious Kitchen, a project of the environmental education nonprofit Turning Green, this initiative has been made possible.
The pilot program was launched in August 2013 together with Cavallo Point Lodge, the Sausalito Marin City School District, Whole Foods Market and Good Earth Natural Foods. In the beginning, the program only served 156 students at the Bayside MLK Jr.
But within two years, attendance increased, and a steep decrease in disciplinary cases was recorded. Now, The Conscious Kitchen is expanding to serve Willow Creek Academy, the other school in the school district.
"Students everywhere are vulnerable to pesticide residues and unsafe environmental toxins,” Turning Green founder Judi Shils said. “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.”
According to the organization, meals will be accompanied by nutrition and gardening education. In addition, the program will also address the controversial issue of GMOs in school food.
While the long-term effects posed by genetically modified crops is still unknown, there is a growing amount of evidence linking them to a number of health risks and environmental damage.
“An estimated 80 percent of items on most supermarket shelves contain GMOs, and they are ubiquitous in school food programs,” reports EcoWatch.
Which is why offering nutritious, wholesome, and organic fare to kids is one of the best steps adults can take today to ensure young kids have a vibrant future.
The fact that this program teaches kids to become more aware of their food and where it comes from is an incredibly positive development. Says Liza Siegler, the organization’s head of partnerships and engagement:
“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.”
With obesity-related crises on the rise, this program will not only empower young kids to “be the change,” but potentially save lives by teaching them to employ food as their first form of medicine.
“Most people don’t realize that GMOs are everywhere, especially in processed foods,” says Justin Everett, the consulting chef for The Conscious Kitchen. “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.”