What is Project Cereal?
Project Cereal is a campaign by Conscious Kitchen to set students up for health and success, while transforming school food supply chains to feature more fresh and organic. Breakfast should jumpstart a day, providing the nutrition and energy to power students physically and mentally. Focusing on a bowl of cereal (one of the most popular items in the USDA school breakfast program) is a simple, measurable, achievable step schools can take to positively impact bodies and minds, climate, and local economies.
ORGANIC FARMS restore soil health, promote biodiversity, and release 30% less greenhouse gas emissions than conventional farms.
ORGANIC GRAINS are not sprayed with pesticides or herbicides that harm people, animals, natural resources, and the planet.
ORGANIC MILK is rich in protein and healthy fatty acids, has no antibiotics or synthetic growth hormones, and comes from sustainably managed pastures.
Why are organic cereals not currently served in schools?
Cereals served in the USDA School Breakfast Program must meet USDA regulations for reimbursement. All grains must either be 100% whole grain or 50% whole grain and fortified with vitamins and minerals. Most organic cereals do not contain fortification, and while many are over 50% whole grain, if not fully 100% whole grain, they do not qualify. Conscious Kitchen is working with manufacturers to reformulate cereals to meet USDA regulations at price points that districts need.
How can my school participate in Project Cereal?
Reach out to your school’s Food Service Director to express interest in Project Cereal. Contact Conscious Kitchen to learn about joining the movement and aligning with the values of Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal, Nutritious (FLOSN) to ensure the resilience of our children, lands, and future — one bowl of cereal at a time.
What brands does Project Cereal work with?
Project Cereal is proud to partner with Nature’s Path, Straus Family Creamery, and other organic businesses. We encourage local sourcing of dairy to our district partners and always seek ways to expand partnerships and offerings.
What is the difference between Project Cereal and Conscious Kitchen?
Project Cereal is a new campaign of Conscious Kitchen, a non-profit that launched in 2013 to address food equity, education, and access by shifting the paradigm around school food service, while cultivating a local, ecological food system, and building nutrition literacy into meals. Through a collaborative, replicable approach, CK partners with schools and communities to break the cycle of conventional, packaged, overly processed food, transitioning to meals based on five foundational attributes: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and nutritious. CK activates school kitchens as hubs for community resilience, while nourishing the minds and bodies of the next generation.
CK created the first organic school district in the country shortly after launching in 2013, which thrives to this day — and is now developing and successfully implementing a viable organic supply chain for institutional purchasing and strengthening organic procurement systems for school districts to benefit students, farmers and soils.
Why is the focus on cereal?
Cereal is one of the most popular items in the USDA school breakfast program. Many conventional cereal brands contain harmful ingredients, and pesticide and herbicide residues that are known allergens and carcinogens – including glyphosate, a chemical listed on California’s Prop 65 list. Glyphosate was declared a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, yet found in alarmingly high concentrations in mainstream food products. Comprehensive research validates that ingestion of glyphosate puts kids at higher risk for cancer, autism, diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease, and disruption of vital microbiome processes.
Are there any other organic items being served in schools at this time?
Conscious Kitchen has run a successful 100% organic school food program since 2013 in the Sausalito Marin City School District. During the pandemic, Conscious Kitchen has partnered with the West Contra Costa Unified School District to meet rising student and community need by sourcing, packing and distributing over 10.7 million pounds of organic food for 18.7 million meals for children, directly investing over $17 million into local economies and organic food businesses. shifting proteins, grains, dairy, produce and other ingredients for up to 644,000 meals per week — and continues with about a 50% increase in organic offerings as part of daily scratch-cooked meal service in the Central Kitchen, and a new heightened focus on breakfast with Project Cereal.
Project Cereal aims to further the organic movement in school districts across the state and country, so that all students can enjoy healthy, nourishing starts to their day.