The Conscious Kitchen (TCK) was piloted in 2013 at Bayside MLK Academy in Marin City. This unincorporated, low-income area is nestled in one of the most affluent counties in the United States. More than 95% of Marin City students qualify for free-and-reduced government-subsidized school meals. 88% of students in this community will be the first in their families to graduate from high school. Although Marin County is teaming with organic farms and ethical food purveyors, Marin City is a food-insecure neighborhood. At the same time, 50% of Marin City 7th graders are overweight or at risk of obesity.
The Conscious Kitchen set out to accomplish the seemingly impossible; to transition from heat-and-serve, pre-packaged, processed school food served at Bayside MLK Academy to meals prepared with fresh, local, organic, seasonal, non-GMO (FLOSN) ingredients. In partnership with Executive Chef Justin Everett of Cavallo Point Lodge and the Sausalito Marin City School District and with support from Good Earth Natural Foods and Whole Foods Market, TCK began its work to shift the paradigm around school food.
Two years later, in the fall of 2015, The Conscious Kitchen expanded to its second site, Willow Creek Academy in Sausalito, forming the nation’s first 100% organic, non-GMO school district. During the 2015 – 2016 school year, TCK served 600+ students more than 120,000 FLOSN meals, which included breakfast, lunch, and snacks. The program is accompanied by an interdisciplinary garden and nutrition curriculum that promotes environmental education. Students are able to plant, cultivate, harvest, and eat food, as they follow it from from seed to fork. Students are becoming environmental stewards, learning the tools they need to integrate a healthy diet into their daily lives.
TCK’s accomplishments over the past three years are unprecedented. The program is creating partnerships with schools, county offices, district leaders, students, businesses, and organizations to map expansion throughout Marin and neighboring Bay Area counties.
During the 2016 – 2017 school year, we’re excited to transition 14 more Marin County schools to FLOSN through our partnership with Good Earth Natural Foods School Lunch Program.