Conscious Kitchen, in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, recently released a report about the benefits of an alternative, values-based, climate-friendly school food service model.

Conscious Kitchen is a California-based organization that has been working for almost a decade to improve food equity, education and access. Their report, Organic, Plant-Forward Scratch Cooked School Meals: A California Case Study looks at three schools currently implementing the feeding model, which is rooted in providing 100 percent organic, scratch-cooked meals from low-waste kitchens.

With federal funding, the Sausalito Marin City School District has operated meal programs based on the Conscious Kitchen model for seven years at its two elementary schools, Willow Creek Academy and Bayside MLK Academy. Peres Elementary School in West Contra Costa Unified School District recently completed a pilot program during the 2018-19 school year.

All three schools report that they have racially diverse students bodies. Additionally, 100 percent of students at Bayside MLK and Peres and just under half of students at Willow Creek Academy qualify for free and reduced meals.

“Lack of access to healthy nutritious food for all children is one of American’s most pressing challenges,” Judi Shils, founder of Conscious Kitchen tells Food Tank. “Poor nutrition and diet-related chronic illness in children are on the rise, and rates are much higher among children of color, leading to long term health and educational disparities.”

Conscious Kitchen’s food model prioritizes students’ health and focuses on reducing preventable disease by providing 100 percent organic, plant-forward, scratch cooked meals.

Another element of the Conscious Kitchen’s model is student engagement and education through a Student Ambassador Program. Through this program, the organization provides funding for a nutrition educator and a school garden. They hope that this will not only help students think more critically about healthy food options, but also participate in the school lunch program.

Read the full article about school meal program by Carley DeMarco at Food Tank.