FEASIBILITY STUDY: Oakland to reform school lunch

FEASIBILITY STUDY: Oakland to reform school lunch


JANUARY 26, 2012—The Center for Ecoliteracy and Oakland (California) Unified School District (OUSD) have released a new study on how to reform school lunch in support of Superintendent Tony Smith’s plan to overcome systemic injustice and raise academic achievement in Oakland schools.

The 79-page study (PDF), “Rethinking School Lunch Oakland,” offers a detailed road map for how to make those changes—above all, by addressing what Nutrition Services Director Jennifer LeBarre has identified as the primary obstacle to further improvement: inadequate kitchen facilities in the district with 70 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

“While OUSD has made great improvement in the meals served to students through the National School Lunch, Breakfast, and Snack programs, more must be done,” said LeBarre, who was recognized by The California Endowment as a pioneer in making healthier school meals. “However,” she added, “we have reached the point where change can’t continue without drastic change in our facilities.”

Jennifer LeBarre’s vision for Nutrition Services specifies that at least 60 percent of the food served should be freshly prepared; food that is not freshly prepared should be minimally processed; and at least 25 percent of produce should be fresh, local, pesticide-free, or organic.

The feasibility study notes that its recommendations, if implemented, would help realize the objectives of the district’s strategic plan, which calls for developing each OUSD school as a “Full Service Community School” that contributes to the development of the social, emotional and physical health of students.

“School food reform is not separate from school reform,” Superintendent Tony Smith has said.” It is part of the basic work we have to do in order to correct systemic injustice, pursue equity, and give our children the best future possible.”

Among the recommendations of the feasibility study:

  • Create a central commissary that can receive deliveries and prepare items to be sent to all district schools.
  • Upgrade equipment and facilities to create cooking kitchens that can cook from scratch and finishing kitchens that can prepare meals from “recipe kits” of bulk ingredients from the central commissary.
  • Designate sites as school-community kitchens to serve as cooking kitchens during the day and be made available for community uses (such as cooking classes and small business development) when school is not in session.
  • Cultivate a 1.5-acre district farm/garden near the central commissary.

For more information about the Center for Ecoliteracy, visit www.ecoliteracy.org