The Conscious Kitchen represents a collective of individuals, organizations, and businesses dedicated to a systemic transformation of the school’s food system, directly affecting student and environmental health. This initiative is working to unify existing nutrition, cooking, and gardening classes that are already offered at Bayside MLK, while serving delicious, nutrient-packed meals daily and mentorship opportunities with local chefs, farmers, and purveyors in the Marin community.
Marin City sits at the southern most tip of Marin County, California – lush and abundant land that is rich in organic farms, ethical food purveyors, and conscious citizenry. The Sausalito Marin City school district is unique in the community, comprised of 120 students with 95 percent qualifying for free and reduced meal programs.
“After months of observing the Marin City school food program, we set out to break the cycle of unhealthy, pre-packaged, over-processed food and start serving fresh local organic options for breakfast and lunch,” said Judi Shils, Founder and Executive Director of Teens Turning Green – and mother to a daughter who began her school career in Marin City. “This was the genesis of the Conscious Kitchen.”
Partner and Executive Chef Justin Everett of Cavallo Point developed the program with Teens Turning Green, seeking to be the first fresh local organic seasonal sustainable and non gmo school-dining hall in the county.
“This is a program that’s near and dear to my heart. During a field trip with my kids, I saw other children eating Cheetos for lunch and I knew immediately a change was in need,” said Executive Chef Justin Everett. “Due to budget cuts to school lunch programs, kids are left with unhealthy, inexpensive food choices. With this program, our aim is to show kids how to eat and cook the right way at an early age, which we believe will lead to better health and better food choices growing up. Once they taste locally and organically grown meals, they will hopefully not go back to Cheetos.”
With an outpouring of support from school district leadership, teachers, and especially students, this unprecedented program has united businesses, purveyors, farmers, and community members to ensure success.
Underscoring this unique collaboration, Good Earth Natural Foods School Lunch Program is providing two full lunches each week to ensure the success of the Conscious Kitchen as it gets started, Taco Tuesday and Pasta Thursday are eagerly looked forward to each week. “There is no other place on earth you’d find support like we have in this community,” said Daniel Norbutas, Principal Bayside MLK Academy. “This collaboration truly defines what community means and is living proof that when we work together, there are solutions to every need. Good Earth and Cavallo Point Lodge are extraordinary partners.”
The Conscious Kitchen is up and running and we will continue to raise funds to support staff, equipment needs, and program to ensure that this pilot will live for years to come in Marin City but also be a model for other school districts demonstrating best practices.
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