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The Conscious Kitchen

Mission: The Conscious Kitchen was founded to rethink school food systems based on six foundational terms: fresh, local, organic, seasonal, non-GMO, and zero Waste. A holistic approach to school meals unites a diverse community of stakeholders working toward a common goal –  nourishing students, while educating school communities about conscious choices through principles of gardening, nutrition, and cooking. 

Since it’s launch in August 2013, the program has set out to break the cycle of pre-packaged, heat and serve, overly processed food, typical of school dining. After one year at Bayside MLK Academy in Marin City, California, the CK has established a framework for systemic change, with scratch cooked meals, hands-on gardening, nutrition and cooking education at the core. With wisdom and skills, these students are establishing themselves as informed, inspired, and mobilized global citizens.

We observed transformation on many levels including enhanced leadership skills, heightened academic performance, decreased disciplinary cases, increased attendance, and bolstered kindness, collaboration, and communication skills. The CK surpassed all 2013/14 goals for preparing FLOSN’Z food affordably, nutritiously, and deliciously.

– Disciplinary cases decreased by 67%
– Attendance increased by 2%
– Students and teachers share meals and conversations in the dining hall (a first!)
– Student behavior, communication skills, and manners have markedly improved in the dinning hall and on campus.
– The CK Student Ambassadors Program has helped students develop leadership and mentorship skills. The program engages them in menu development, hands-on food preparation, feedback on recipes, and clean up
– The CK Program encompasses garden and nutrition, cooking, and zero waste curriculum in the district
– The Conscious Kitchen has become a point of pride for the Marin City community

Beyond the Dining Hall:
– After School Cooking: The CK launched after school cooking classes for students this semester for hands-on training in the kitchen
– Vocational Training: Middle school students were given the opportunity to hone their vocational skills through weekly visits to the 5-star kitchen of CK partner, Executive Chef Justin Everett of Cavallo Point Lodge.

Next Steps:
We look forward to expanding the CK program in Marin City and beyond with our primary focus being underserved populations. At the same time we are inspired to work with all schools to transition their food programs to fresh, local, organic, seasonal, non-GMO, and zero waste (FLOSN’Z). We believe this is the way we should be nourishing all students children, no exceptions!

Vision 2014/15:
    Bayside MLK Academy
    – Kitchen Upgrades: to enhance the food prep and make it more streamlined
    – CK Farm: fund infrastructure and year one costs including the farm coordinator
    – CK Garden/Nutrition/Cooking Program: utilize the garden and farm as teaching opportunities for children in our broader community

   New sites
   – Share the wisdom we have learned through the development of the CK through a toolkit to teach this concept forward and help start additional sites
   – Actively pursue new sites that have capability and interest in transitioning their food program
   – Conscious Kitchen Food Truck to feed families in Marin City and also travel throughout Marin

    – Present the CK at educational conferences to teach it forward

    – CK Cookbook

Video recap after the first 6 months of CK: Bayside MLK Academy:

Time lapse of prep and service from St. Patrick’s Day 2014!

Video at the launch of CK: Bayside MLK Academy