We take a collaborative approach and engage our community to break the cycle of prepackaged, unhealthy school lunches. Our commitment to fresh, local, organic, seasonal food protects our air, soil, and water, and strengthens our regional food supply & economy, while supporting the health and wellness of our children.
We create deep roots in local communities.
We bring students, farmers, ranchers, mission-driven food providers, school district leadership, health departments, health & education professionals, chefs and restaurants, waste management officials, elected officials, parents and teachers together with a common goal of improving the health and well-being of our children, by transforming the school dining experience . This ensures that Conscious Kitchen is created by, and representative of, the community it serves.
Conscious Kitchen in the Sausalito-Marin City School District is a place based model and demonstration site that we are replicating to serve new districts and communities. The web of partnerships and relationships developed in Sausalito and Marin City exist in all communities.
We create collective impact.
Conscious Kitchen builds cross-sector collaborations and creates shared measurement systems to address global and societal challenges community by community through food, with the well-being of children at the core.
The impact is vast. Civil Eats calls the farm to institution sourcing model the “sleeping giant” of local food. According to the USDA, nearly 100,000 schools/institutions serve school lunches to 30.4 million students each day. With multimillion dollar food procurement budgets, shifts in school food buying have the potential for major impacts on local economies, agricultural systems, food access, public health and better life outcomes for the next generation.
Examples of sectors we impact:
Conscious Kitchen supports ecological agriculture and small-scale farming and ranching operations by creating dependable local demand and farm-to-table networks for farmers and ranchers.
School behavior and focus issues are often associated with nutritional deficits or food insecurity. Teachers and administration have reported a reduction in behavioral issues, increased attention spans and an increase in students taking leadership roles since the arrival of CK into their schools.
Public health: Eating highly processed foods, consuming sugary drinks and a diet deficient in elements necessary for proper development are contributing to an epidemic of obesity and associated health problems among children in the US. With the support of University of California San Francisco’s Family Health Outcomes Project (FHOP), County Health and Human Services and other community members, CK is working closely with its partner schools to analyze data to assess the impact that the transition to healthy, fresh food served in schools has on both minds and bodies.
“Kids were significantly more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when The Conscious Kitchen was serving school lunch than with the regular school lunch. Eating fruits and vegetables can make a big difference in how well students do in school, and the test scores they get.” —Jennifer Rienks, Associate Director of the UCSF Family Health Outcomes Project
Food waste: Reducing food losses by just 15 percent translates to enough food to feed more than 25 million Americans every year. During the 2016 – 2017 school year, The Conscious Kitchen served 540+ students daily more than 120,000 chef prepared zero-waste FLOSN meals, designed with student input. This translates to as much as 75% less food and packaging waste. Prior to CK, students had been throwing significant amounts of pre-packaged heat and serve food served in traditional school lunch programs into the garbage, contributing to our already overfilled landfills.
Local economies: According to the USDA Farm to School Census, every dollar given to a local farmer or rancher generates, on average, an additional $1.00 of local economic activity. By forging partnerships with local farmers, ranchers, chefs, purveyors, and grocers, the program supports local businesses, and in turn, catalyzes a network of local ethical businesses dedicated to supporting local school food programs.
Equity: Prior to the Conscious Kitchen program at Willow Creek Academy, 120 students on free & reduced meal (FRM) programs were eating school lunches. Within the first week of the CK program in 2015/16, 280 students (FRM + paid students) were eating, creating a more equitable school food environment. That number has increased throughout ensuing years.
Strengthening local food systems and providing nutritious food to our children is our call to action. Conscious Kitchen creates the intention and a structure that translates these ideas into action.